Reds look to build momentum against Rangers

Field Level Media

The Cincinnati Reds have reason for optimism as they host Friday's opener of a three-game interleague series against the Texas Rangers.

The Reds ignited a sputtering offense by belting four solo homers in a 7-2 romp over Cleveland on Wednesday afternoon.

The power display enabled Cincinnati to salvage a split of its two-game series versus its in-state rival and snap an eight-game losing streak in interleague play. It also allowed the Reds to move out of the cellar in the National League Central for the first time since April 15.

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"We need to do better on our side," said veteran Joey Votto, who followed rookie Nick Senzel's leadoff homer by going deep in the next at-bat on Wednesday.

"We just need to put together better at-bats, be more productive collectively. I do think there's a lot left in the tank with this offense. The pitching has done fantastic this year. I feel like we've been pretty steady defensively. But offensively, we haven't done our part. Fortunately, we have a good bit of season to go. We have high expectations."

Votto, who is batting a robust .397 (23-for-58) over his last 14 games, is expected to play in the series opener against the Rangers after exiting Wednesday's contest with tightness in his back.

While Votto has been hot, the Reds have been limited to averaging two runs per game during an eight-game stretch prior to Wednesday's uprising.

"You have to make adjustments in this game," said Senzel, who is 6-for-15 with four extra-base hits (three doubles, homer) during his four-game hitting streak.

"Everyone thinks hitting is so easy and the game is so easy. It's definitely not, especially at this level. You have to go out and make adjustments and take good at-bats, get on base and score runs."

Cincinnati will attempt to win multiple games for the first time since May 27-28 on Friday when it turns to right-hander Tyler Mahle (2-6, 4.21 ERA).

Mahle allowed three runs in five innings of a 4-2 setback at Philadelphia last Friday to sustain his first defeat since losing for the fifth straight time on May 7. The 24-year-old served up a two-run homer to Jay Bruce in that contest, marking the fifth homer he has surrendered in his last three starts and 12th this season.

Mahle will make his first start against the Rangers, although he has previously faced Asdrubal Cabrera (1-for-3) and Danny Santana (0-for-2).

Texas saw an early five-run lead go by the boards as it surrendered five homers en route to a 7-6 setback to Boston on Thursday.

Elvis Andrus and Hunter Pence each carry five-game hitting streaks into the series opener after posting three-hit performances versus the Red Sox. Andrus also drove in three runs on Thursday.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward did not reveal the identity of the team's starting pitcher for the series opener, but expressed no qualms about the expected bullpen day after using three relievers in the finale versus the Red Sox.

"I was trying to win the game, I didn't want to think about that too much tonight," Woodward said. "Obviously we have to think about it a little bit since we're going to use it. I think we're fine. I think we're in good shape."

Left-hander Drew Smyly, who initially was in line to start Friday's contest, is dealing with an ankle injury and has been demoted to the bullpen.

Right-hander Shelby Miller, who also was pulled from the starting rotation earlier this season, could get the nod for the series opener after last pitching an inning in relief on Sunday.

--Field Level Media

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