Manager Dusty Baker still has faith. Brandon Phillips expressed dismay before the game that bandwagon fans were abandoning a team 10 games over .500. Ryan Hanigan just wants to get healthy and stay healthy, a wish shared by a number of teammates.
At the exact halfway point of a season with more peaks and valleys than the Himalayas, the Reds returned home to Great American Ball Park on Monday to face the team that bounced them from the playoffs last October on this same field.
These, of course, are not the 2012 Giants or the 2012 Reds. The Giants, the defending World Series champions, began the series three games under .500, while the Reds, still four wins ahead of last year’s pace, just finished a 12-15 June to fall 5½ games back in the National League Central.
For one night, at least, the Reds looked like the team they were in May, not the team that just finished a 2-6 road trip. They beat the Giants 8-1 in front of a crowd of 30,702. The game was called at 10:51 p.m. after six innings and a rain delay of one hour, 28 minutes.
“All you can do is is believe in yourself,” said Phillips before the game. “We’ve got to get as many wins as possible. I understand how they feel. Trust me, we’re not losing on purpose. We’re trying our hardest.”
The Reds’ dormant offense awoke in the second and third innings. A team that scored more than six runs only once in 27 games in June scored seven runs in those two innings alone.
“I think we were more aggressive tonight,” Baker said. “We weren’t getting deep in the count. We were attacking the first pitch. Sometimes that’s what it takes. When you don’t know what else to do, you attack.”
The Reds (47-36) kicked Giants starter Mike Kickham out of the game in the third inning, by which time he had given up seven earned runs on nine hits. He was making the third start of his career. He was 0-2 with a 10.57 ERA in his first two starts.
Todd Frazier drove in the Reds’ first run with a single in the four-run second and the last three with a three-home run an inning later. Those two hits helped the Reds (47-36) cut the lead of Pirates (51-30) to five games. St. Louis (49-32) is two back of Pittsburgh. Both were idle Monday.
“I’m one of those guys who likes to see where we are in the standings,” Frazier said. “Five and a half back is not where we should be. We know that, even with all the injuries we’ve had.”
The Reds provided starter Bronson Arroyo with more than enough run support. He gave up one run on two hits in six innings.
Arroyo (10-7) picked up his first win since June 3 and put his worst start of the season behind him. He gave up seven runs in four innings in Oakland on Tuesday.