McCoy: Another Votto dinger powers Reds past Marlins

The amazing 2021 Joey Votto Renaissance just keeps getting better and better and better.

The 37-year old Cincinnati Reds first baseman said before the season began that he was changing his approach, “Because I want to do damage.”

As he has done to many teams this season, Votto left the wreckage of the Miami Marlins strewn all over Great American Ball Park, a 6-1 victory.

The Reds squeezed to within one game of the idle San Diego Padres for the second spot in the National League wild card chase.

Votto’s three-run home run in the fourth inning lifted the Reds from a 1-0 deficit to a 3-1 lead.

It was Votto’s 27th home run, but his major damage has been done in little over a month since the All-Star break, 16 home runs and 39 RBI.

As so often happen this season, rookie leadoff hitter Jonathan India started the fourth-inning rally with a single. With one out, Nick Castellanos singled and Votto popped his 428-foot home run.

“Joey Votto … every night he does something cool,” said India. “At this point it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s Joey doing something again, doing something. Hitting a home run, hitting a double.’ When Joey goes, we go.

“I know Joey is going to hit something hard when we are on base. He loves that, he lives for that when guys are on. I knew he was going to come through. It was a home run and you say, ‘Oh, it’s another home run for Joey.’”

And India, too, makes the team go and has done so ever since manager David Bell dropped him into the leadoff spot.

“I love it. I love that feeling where the team depend on me,” said India. “If I get on, we’re going to win. It doesn’t put pressure on me, it makes me feel confident, make me feel like I’m a big part of this team.”

Bell made a bold move, putting a rookie in the leadoff spot at mid-season.

“A whole bunch of things led to that,” said Bell. “In the end, it became a situation where he forced himself into that spot. It just became so obvious that he just made that happen. That was the opportunity for him and right away he made the most of it. He thrives in that spot. He took a lot of pride in what it meant to our team.”

After scoring only one run each of their last two games, both losses to the Chicago Cubs, the Reds came out swinging against the Marlins, occupants of last place in the National League East.

Tyler Naquin, batting second, extended his career-best hitting streak to nine games with a single, Kyle Farmer lengthened his hitting streak to eight games with a pair of hits, India contributed two hits and scored two and Castellanos provided two hits.

And the second-half renaissance of pitcher Luis Castillo keeps advancing, especially Thursday with some extra incentive.

Castillo was originally signed by the Marlins but was traded to the Reds. With his victory, he is 4- 0 in five starts against his original team.

But he wouldn’t admit it.

“I have nothing against that organization, it’s all part of the business,” he said. “I’m just going out there trying to compete as much as I can against every team that I face.”

On June 20, Castillo was 2-10 and has gone 5-2 since then and pitched even much better than 5-2.

India watches Castillo work from second base and marvels.

“He is unbelievable, and I don’t know how guys hit him,” said India. “From my angle, the ball moves so much at 99 miles an hour I don’t understand how guys hit him. We expect it out of Luis, he is an electric pitcher.”

On this night he muzzled the Marlins on one run and eight hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.

“I felt spectacular today,” he said. “I was commanding the zone and commanding all my pitches.”

The Marlins did not feel spectacular.