By HAL McCOY
When a team begins the season 3-and-18, it takes what it can get as far as positive feedback.
For the Cincinnati Reds, it is a series victory — their first this season.
They didn’t exactly dance from the bus to the airplane for the trip home Sunday afternoon, but they were a happy group after ripping the Minnesota Twins, 8-2.
It gave them two victories in the three-game series, their first series win of the first eight played.
That they did it against the Twins, losers in nine of their last 10 games, doesn’t take away from the euphoria.
And they’ve won four of their last seven under interim manager Jim Riggleman after they lost his first three in St. Louis.
Since then they’ve split four games with Atlanta and taken two of three from the Twins.
And the once-silent bats suddenly are speaking out. After scoring 10 runs in one of the wins over Atlanta, the Reds scored 18 runs on 34 hits in the two victories over the Twins.
On Sunday they took apart Minnesota’s best pitcher, Jose Berrios. In three early starts this season Berrios did not give up any earned runs, although the New York Yankees destroyed him in his previous start before Sunday.
The Reds scored runs in each of the first four innings to build a 6-0 lead. Berrios lasted only three innings and gave up four runs on five hits and three walks.
That was more than enough for young Tyler Mahle, easily the best Reds starter the last two times through the rotation.
After pitching six no-hit innings with 11 strikeouts in a start last week against Atlanta, Mahle went 6 1/3 innings and gave up one run and four hits while striking out seven Sunday.
He pitched five scoreless innings before the Twins reached him for a run in the sixth when No. 9 hitter Jason Castro doubled and scored on Joe Mauer’s single.
Every Reds played in the batting order had a least one hit, led by scorching shortstop Jose Peraza with three hits. For the series, Peraza was 8 for 15 with two home runs, four runs scored and three RBI.
Jesse Winker, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez each had two hits and Adam Duvall hit his fourth home run. Alex Blandino punched a hit to extend his hitting streak to seven games.
A double by Suarez in the first inning produced a 1-0 lead. A double by Jesse Winker in the second inning produced a 2-0 lead.
Joey Votto singled and Gennett doubled to open the third and both scored on fielder’s choices when the sloppy Twins couldn’t turn double plays.
The Reds made it 5-0 in the fourth on three straight singles by Blandino, Winker and Peraza to open the inning and Suarez pushed it to 6-0 with a two-out single.
And the Reds at 7-and-21 are close to escaping the ignominy of owning the worst record in baseball. The Kansas City Royals are 7-and-20 and the Baltimore Orioles are 8-and-20.