When the Cincinnati Reds offense is at its best and showcasing all of its strengths at the same time, it looks like what they did in Wednesday’s 10-3 win over the St. Louis Cardinals.
During the win in front of 12,626 fans at Great American Ball Park, the Reds’ only homer bounced off of the Cardinals right fielder’s glove and over the fence. As the Reds picked up 18 hits, they gave the Cardinals’ pitchers a series of tough at-bats, didn’t try to do too much and delivered a series of singles and doubles.
Nearly every hitter in the Reds’ lineup had the type of game that can give a hitter some long-term momentum. Reds first baseman Spencer Steer had four hits. Third baseman Kevin Newman had one of his best games as a Red. Shortstop Matt McLain had two hits and scored two runs. Stuart Fairchild had three hits.
The superlatives went up and down the lineup. But what turned a few hits into huge innings was how well the Reds ran the bases.
In the first inning, as soon as Steer made contact on a line drive to right field, second baseman Jonathan India started sprinting so he could advance from first base to third. India only has average sprint speed, according to Statcast, but his effort and aggressiveness make him a good baserunner.
India’s read didn’t just lead to him picking up an extra base. St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Oscar Mercado bobbled the ball as he rushed to throw the ball and get India out. When Mercado dropped the ball, Steer took second base.
One batter later, Reds catcher Tyler Stephenson drove them both in to give the Reds an early lead.
The Reds are trying to make up for a lack of power at the top of their order with aggressive baserunning. The Reds don’t have any true power hitters on the roster, and they’ve used baserunning to create runs all season.
In Wednesday’s win, that mentality helped carry the Reds to a win.
Newman kept the momentum going in the first inning by crushing a two-run double into the left field gap.
The Reds’ baserunning was consistent throughout the game. Reds shortstop McLain, who also homered on Wednesday, sprinted out a ground ball and beat the throw to first to avoid a double play. The Reds had a successful double steal. Steer tried to take advantage of a throwing error and take home on a ground ball in the infield. The Cardinals caught Steer at the plate, but he took the type of calculated risk that the Reds are looking for. India legged out an infield single in the seventh inning. McLain scored from second base on a flare single to left field.
These little moments added up in a great game for the Reds’ offense.
Takeaways from Reds vs. Cardinals
1. Reds starting pitcher Ben Lively jokes that he had a lot of time in his minor league career to tinker with his approach and add new pitches. He now mixes six pitches, and Lively has found a formula that’s been successful for the Reds. He only allowed two runs in six innings against the Cardinals, giving the Reds one of the best starts in all of May. Lively’s fastball was his best pitch, and he struck out eight batters by capitalizing on a slider that the Cardinals couldn’t make contact against.
2. At the start of May, Lively hadn’t pitched in MLB since 2019. At the start of last week, his spot in the Reds’ rotation was on a start-to-start basis. Lively has taken full advantage of his opportunity and has a 2.65 ERA with the Reds.
3. Stephenson’s first inning RBI was a big at-bat in a tough season for one of the Reds’ best players. He has particularly struggled with runners in scoring position this season, and Stephenson has been looking to drive the ball with more power down the line. He delivered on his single in the first inning and then added a double in the sixth inning. Stephenson also reached base four times on Monday, and he’s starting to get more consistent results at the plate.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Cincinnati Reds offense beats St. Louis Cardinals