By HAL McCOY
When in future years somebody brings up the 2018 Cincinnati Reds, somebody else might say, “Isn’t that the team that hit all those grand slam home runs?”
And the answer will be, “Yes, that team hit 11 grand slams, a franchise record and the most by any major league team that year.”
And the original somebody might say, “That must have been a good team?”
Well, not so much.
But, indeed, the 2018 Cincinnati Reds are grand masters of the grand slam.
The 11th came Saturday afternoon in Great American Ball Park, a drive into the right field seats by Joey Votto during a seven-run second inning.
It was the big blow in a 7-2 rain-shortened victory over the San Diego Padres. On Friday night Scott Schebler hit the team’s 10th grand slam during a 12-6 victory over the Padres.
The game’s start Saturday was moved up an hour due to impending bad weather and that weather hit after 6 1/3 innings and the game eventually was called and declared complete.
Perhaps of more significance about Votto’s grand slam was that it was his first home run of any kind since July 9 at Cleveland. He had gone 36 games without a home run, his longest dry run since going 40 games in 2012, longest of his illustrious career.
And even more significant than Votto’s home run and the 11 grand slams was Matt Harvey’s pitching performance Saturday.
It was his best this season. His work sheet was six innings, two runs, four hits, three walks and 10 strikeouts via 98 mostly high quality pitches. His 10 strikeouts were his first double-digit ‘K’ performance since May 8, 2016.
It was obvious in the first inning that Harvey was on top of things when he struck out the side on 10 pitches.
His only glitch was a two-run home run in the fourth by Eric Hosmer, the 206th home run hit by Reds opponents this season, most in the majors.
After Hosmer’s home run, Harvey gave up a triple to Hunter Renfroe and then walked two to fill the bases with one out. But he escaped by striking out both pinch-hitter Francisco Mejia and Freddy Galvin.
After that, Harvey put down eight straight Padres before the rain halted proceedings.
Harvey is a free agent after the season and with the Reds in desperate search for quality starting pitching it would behoove them to search the vault for enough legal tender to lure him back.
From all he has said since landing in Cincinnati at the trade deadline from the New York Mets for catcher Devin Mesoraco, it appears he likes his situation in Cincinnati.
He has constantly said he loves Cincinnati, he likes the way the players have accepted him and is appreciative of the Reds giving him a chance to rekindle his career.
Is he sincere or is he being a nice guy and politically correct? Will the prospect of more cash from another venue entice him and/or will his stickler agent, Scott Boras, insist he take the best offer.
The Reds scored all seven runs in the seventh inning off San Diego starter Robbie Erlin, sending 11 batters to the plate. Harvey, trying to sacrifice, put down a perfect bunt for a single during the inning that saw Brandon Dixon, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler drive in runs before Votto turned on a 2-and-1 fastball for his grand slam.
Back to the grand slams, nine different players have hit at least one and Votto and Adam Duvall each hit a pair and two pitchers hit one.
1—Scooter Gennett off Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon on May 22.
2—Eugenio Suarez off Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova on May 24.
3—Adam Duvall off Arizona’s Patrick Corbin on May 30.
4—Adam Duvall off Kansas City’s Jason Adam on June 13.
5—Joey Votto off Detroit’s Matthew Boyd on June 19.
6—Jesse Winker off Chicago’s (Cubs) Randy Rosario on June 21.
7—Anthony DeSclafani off Chicago’s (Cubs) Brian Duensing on June 23.
8—Michael Lorenzen off Milwaukee’s Jacob Barnes on June 30.
9—Jose Peraza off Milwaukee’s Aaron Wilkerson on July 1,
10—Scott Schebler off San Diego’s Rowan Wick on September 7.
11—Joey Votto off San Diego’s Robbie Erwin on September 8.
The Reds lead the series two games to one and Sunday’s game time also has been switched to 4:10, also to try to avoid a forecast of inclement weather.