Offensive success ‘just a matter of time’ for Reds

Reds outfielders Jesse Winker, right, and Matt Kemp, center, slap hands as Scott Schebler watches after a victory against the Marlins on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

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Reds outfielders Jesse Winker, right, and Matt Kemp, center, slap hands as Scott Schebler watches after a victory against the Marlins on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Jesse Winker had almost finished a post-game interview Tuesday in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse when he delivered his best line about the slumping offense that awoke in a 14-0 victory against the Miami Marlins.

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“I think it’s a ticking time bomb,” Winker said. “This is a group due to kind of explode, and I think that happened tonight. We just need to ride that and keep going with it.”

In one day, the Reds improved their team batting average from .170 to .199. They still rank last in the National League in that category but moved from last in runs scored to 13th out of 15 teams by scoring more runs in the first seven innings than they did in the first seven games this season (11).

While it was only one victory — the Reds’ first since Opening Day after eight straight losses and their second of the season — it at least provided hope the law of averages will swing in favor of the Reds.

"Hopefully, it does carry over," said bench coach Freddie Benavides, who served as acting manager as David Bell served a one-game suspension. They've got a track record. It's a good offensive ballclub. They've got numbers. I think they're going to explode."

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That happened in a seven-run sixth inning. Matt Kemp, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler hit back-to-back-to-back home runs. It was the first time the Reds had done that since 2012. Winker hit a two-run home run in the fourth. Kyle Farmer added a three-run home run in the seventh.

Winker, who hit .299 last season, entered the game with one hit in 24 at-bats and went 2-for-4, raising his average from .042 to .103. Kemp, a .285 career hitter, also went 2-for-5 and drove in his first runs of the season with a three-run home run. He raised his average from .091 to .148.

Winker and Kemp took early batting practice Tuesday, Benavides said, with hitting coach Turner Ward.

“It’s just a matter of getting confidence and getting at-bats,” Benavides said. “It’s been tough for some of them, but once they get their at-bats and they’re consistent, it’s just a matter of time.”

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Winker hit fastballs for 15-20 minutes by himself, he said, in hopes of getting back to basics.

“Nothing too crazy,” he said. “It was really good. It was really fun.”

Slumping at the beginning of the season makes it harder for Winker and the team, which improved to 2-8 and avoided its first 1-9 start since 1937.

“Everyone wants to get off to a good start,” Winker said. “It’s one of those things. But it’s a marathon. It really is. Every time I hit a ball hard and touch first and run by Delino (DeShields), he always reminds me, ‘Hey, it’s a marathon.’ I appreciate him doing that, too. You keep your head down. I’ve got a great group of guys in here. It’s 10 games. They’re just telling me, ‘Just keep going.’ You don’t look too much into it, but at the same time, it’s hard not to look too much into it.”


THURSDAY’S GAME

Marlins at Reds, 12:35 p.m., FS Ohio, 700, 1410

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