Tyler Mahle and the Cincinnati Reds offense finally got on the same page.
Lack of run support had been costly for the Cincinnati right-hander through the first two months of the 2019 season. A 1-0 loss to the Mets at New York on May 2 was followed by a 2-0 loss at Oakland on May 7 while Mike Fiers was throwing a no-hitter.
The Reds did erupt for six runs last Saturday at Wrigley Field, but Mahle tied his career high by allowing six earned runs over five innings in an 8-6 loss.
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In Friday’s opener of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals at Great American Ball Park, Mahle (2-5) matched a solid pitching performance with a prolific Cincinnati offense. He allowed five hits and three runs with two walks and eight strikeouts in five innings while the Reds were piling up 15 hits and nine runs with him on the mound.
Curt Casali had three hits and drove in four runs, three with his second homer of the season, and Joey Votto also collected three hits as the Reds romped to a 9-3 win before 24,358 fans on “Star Wars” Night.
“When you get support like that, you just want to throw a lot of strikes and get through the game,” said Mahle, who recorded his first career win over a National League East team. “You don’t have to be as careful.”
The Reds scored at least eight runs for the third time in their last four games and fourth in their last six while snapping an eight-game losing streak against Washington at Great American Ball Park. Cincinnati hasn’t won a season series against the Nationals since 2015 and had lost 10 of their last 11 overall games against Washington.
“We’re in synch,” Casali said. “Our pitching’s been great all season. We have a good lineup, and it was only a matter of time before we started hitting.”
Nick Senzel, Jose Iglesias and Jose Peraza each had two hits and every Cincinnati starter except Mahle logged at least one hit.
Much like the second game of Monday’s doubleheader, when the Reds sent 11 batters to the plate while scoring six runs in the first inning of Pittsburgh right-hander Mitch Keller’s major league debut, the Reds sent 10 batters to the plate and scored five runs against left-hander Patrick Corbin (5-3). Senzel and Votto hit his first two pitches for singles, Eugenio Suarez lined an RBI single to left, and Yasiel Puig hit a rocket off the left field wall so hard that Suarez could go only to second while Votto scored from second.
Senzel extended his hitting streak to eight games with his sixth leadoff hit of the season.
One out later, Casali blasted a shot halfway up the lower level of the first full section of seats down the left field line for a three-run homer and 5-0 lead – the second-most runs Corbin had allowed in any of his 12 starts. Cincinnati’s seven hits in the inning matched the most Corbin had allowed in any game this season.
“Guys, that was a real pitcher,” he yelled after getting back to the dugout, according to Fox Sports Ohio’s Shannon Ford on Twitter. Casali’s only other homer this season came off Cubs’ infielder/catcher Victor Caratini on Sunday.
“We got a good laugh out of that,” Casali said after the game.
“That gave us a little breathing room,” manager David Bell said. “Mahle did everything he could to get us to the bullpen. It was a great start to the game against a tough pitcher. We came out aggressive. We were swinging at a lot of first pitches. The offense is gaining confidence and everybody is contributing.”
Cincinnati’s seven first inning hits were the most of any single inning this season.
“That was a great first inning,” Bell said. “It was really good offensive night for the entire team. It’s nice to see guys like Curt Casali and Kyle Farmer contribute. They’re doing a good job of staying ready.
Votto’s hit snapped a tie with Brandon Phillips for eighth place on the Reds’ career hits list. Votto, who missed Cincinnati’s previous three games with a tight right hamstring, added another RBI single in Cincinnati’s three-run third inning and a third single in the fifth. He now has 1,777, seven behind Baseball Hall of Fame outfielder Edd Roush.
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