McCoy: Reds Celebrate Marte’s Return With 11-Run Explosion

By Hal McCoy

The Cincinnati Reds did everything Thursday night in St. Louis but knock down the Gateway Arch. And they nearly did that during an 11-4 crushing of the St. Louis Cardinals.

They treated St. Louis starter Miles Mikolas like an old coach batting practice pitcher — 10 runs and 12 hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Those 12 hits included eight for extra bases, a home run, a triple and six doubles.

They scored in all five innings against Mikolas — 1, 1, 3, 2 and 3.

It is a familiar pattern for the Reds. They are 18-9 in the first game of a series. It’s the games after that where they play with flat tires.

In the previous series, they beat Pittsburgh in the opener, 11-5, then lost the next two. In the opener against Boston they won, 5-2, then lost the next two.

“We need to keep going. We’ve been doing this the last four series, win big the first game and then it doesn’t turn out good,” said Jonathan India during a post-game interview on Bally Sports Ohio. “We have to keep our foot on the pedal and come out ready tomorrow.”

Stars were abundant for the Reds Thursday.

Noelvi Marte returned from his 80-game suspension and celebrated with three hits that included a double, three runs, an RBI and a stolen base.

Asked if Marte’s return lit a spark, India said, “Yeah, for sure. He’s a helluva player, a multi-talent. Look what he did tonight. A great game. Came out swinging like he usually does. It’s big for our lineup.”

Will Benson emerged from his 0 for 25 slump cocoon with two hits that included two RBI and two runs scored.

“Being able to contribute to the win is a great feeling,” he said. “This is one of the blessings and curses of this game. You learn a lot about yourself and you do some soul-searching alot.When I struggle I just double down on the work that I put in.”

India doubled his first two times to reach bases 13 times in 15 plate appearances. It was his sixth straight multi-hit game and extended his hitting streak to nine games.

He has been sizzling since T.J. Friedl landed on the injured list and manager David Bell put India in Friedl’s leadoff spot.

“I love hitting first,” he said. “It gives me more confidence. I’m the guy who has to get on. I like that pressure. Yeah, I definitely feel good at the top.”

The home run was provided by Spencer Steer to go with a double that produced two RBI and two runs scored.

The triple came in the personage of Elly De La Cruz for two RBI. He also singled twice and stole his league-leading 38th base on a pitchout.

Pitching? It was the most bizarre night of Reds starter Andrew Abbott’s career.

He walked a career-worst six batters in five innings and survived the game only because the Reds were running the bases like a high-speed carousel.

He walked four of the first seven batters he faced. He walked the bases loaded in the first inning with one out, but escaped by striking out Nolan Arenado and coaxing an inning-ending ground ball from Jose Fermin.

Despite the walks, Abbott survived by giving up only two hits during his 102 pitches for his five innings.

His fifth walk came on a full count to Willson Contreras in the third. Arenado then homered, the first and only legitimate hit off Abbott. The other hit was an infield dribbler up the third base line by Contreras in the fifth.

The Reds quickly showed they were not just in town to catch a glimpse of the Mississippi River. India opened the game with a single and De La
Cruz tripled him home.

They added one in the second on Benson’s slump-busting single and India’s double. They scored three in the third on three straight doubles by Steer, Nick Martini and Marte, plus Benson’s sacrifice fly to make irt 5-0.

Arenado’s homer in the third, cut it to 5-2, but the Reds retrieved those two in the fourth on Steer’s two-run, two-out home run and it was 7-2.

It swelled to 10-2 in the fifth with a Cincinnati three-spot on run-scoring doubles by Benson and Stuart Fairchild and a sacrifice fly by Luke Maile.

Maile was the only Reds starter without a hit. Marte and De La Cruz each had three hits. Benson was robbed of a third hit in the ninth when right fielder Dylan Carlson crashed against the ball to snag a hard-hit line drive.

Maile was a quick lineup insert just prior to the game when catcher Tyler Stephenson left to be with his wife as she gave birth.

Of Marte’s return and quick placement in the lineup, manager David Bell said, “It’s time for Marte to play baseball. He served his 80-game suspension, now it is time for him to just play ball and continue to develop and improve.”

Marte played third base, where Jeimer Candelario has been playing. Candelario is nursing tendinitis. And what happens when he returns?

“We’ll use him, fit him in, as a designated hitter,” said Bell.

Marte finished last season on a 17-game hitting streak and 23 straight games on base. And he picked up right where he left off.

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