Pirates back home after Cincy sweep
By Jeff Wallner
The Associated Press
CINCINNATI — The names might not ring out like Rose, Morgan, Bench and the Big Red Machine.
But Tyler Naquin, Nick Castellanos, Jonathan India and these Cincinnati Reds are breaking loose for runs in bunches.
Naquin hit another leadoff homer and the high-scoring Reds kept rolling, backing Luis Castillo to rout the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-4 Wednesday for their fifth straight win.
Coming off their first playoff appearance in seven years, the Reds have started a season 5-1 for the first time since 2016.
“The determination to win games is there,” Reds manager David Bell said. “And by no means do I sense any sort of letup. Guys are way too smart for that. They know what’s ahead of us.”
Their 56 runs are the most in Reds franchise history through the first six games of a season. The 1976 team with Morgan, Rose, Bench and Tony Perez scored 51 en route to a second straight World Series championship.
The Pirates absorbed the brunt of Cincinnati’s rampage this week, outscored 30-8 in the three-game series sweep.
“We’re definitely ready to get out of Cincinnati,” manager Derek Shelton said.
Naquin jumped on Chad Kuhl’s first pitch for his second career leadoff home run, and second in as many days. He became the first Reds batter with leadoff home runs in consecutive appearances since Eddie Milner on June 24-25, 1984.
A day after hitting two homers and driving in seven runs, Naquin started the Reds toward another romp by keying a five-run first inning.
“I’m really happy for Tyler,” Bell said. “He’s getting some opportunities here early and he’s absolutely made the most of it and been a big part our first week.”
Castellanos homered in the fifth. Tyler Stephenson and Aristides Aquino hit back-to-back home runs in the eighth.
Castillo (1-1) neatly bounced back after allowing a career-high 10 runs on opening day to St. Louis. He shut out the Pirates on four hits for seven innings, striking out five and walking one.
“The catcher was calling my changeup, and it was working today,” Castillo said. “It is my second-best pitch. I didn’t (need to) throw my slider.”
Erik Gonzalez hit his first career grand slam in the Pirates ninth off Amir Garrett.
Kyle Farmer’s two-run double capped the big first off Kuhl (0-1).
“It starts with the energy in the clubhouse,” Farmer said. “Guys are hot right now. When everything is rolling well, hitting is contagious. So it just keeps rolling, and it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
RUNS BATTED INDIA
Reds rookie second baseman Jonathan India drove in three runs on Wednesday, giving him 10 RBIs in his first six games. India is batting .476. He also threw a runner out at the plate.
“I’m confident out here,” he said. “No nerves. I’m just playing the game I know how to play. This is my dream. It’s everything I expected and more.” India’s two-run double in the fifth came after he was hit in the helmet by a Kuhl pitch in the third. “I wasn’t dazed at all,” India said.
CRYING THREE RIVERS
The Pirates mercifully return home to PNC Park to begin a seven-game homestand after dropping five of six on the road to begin the season. “We just need to flush these games away,” Shelton said. “(The Reds) just banged on us, hit the ball out of the ballpark. We’re ready to go home.”
Reds: OF Jesse Winker, who hasn’t played since leaving Saturday’s game due to a flu-like illness, resumed baseball activity on Wednesday and could return to the lineup on Friday. Winker hasn’t tested positive for COVID-19. “It wiped him out a little bit,” Bell said.
Pirates: Open a homestand against the Cubs on Friday with LHP Tyler Anderson making his second start of the season against Chicago. He struck out seven but took the loss on Saturday after allowing three runs over five innings.
Reds: Begin their first road trip of the season on Friday in Arizona. RHP Tyler Mahle looks for his second win of the season after allowing two earned runs through five innings in Saturday’s 9-6 win over the Cardinals.