The revival of the Whack-A-Cub game here at Red Hot Mama was perfectly timed, apparently…and the Reds must have really liked the idea, because they staged their own version this afternoon at GABP during a 9-0 win over the Chicago Cubs in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Whack A Cub, indeed. The Reds whacked seven home runs against Cubs pitching. They whacked Jon Lieber (2-2) four times – all in the second inning. Joey Votto (who won the Whack-A-Cub contest by whacking three of the Reds’ seven home runs on the day) got things started by pulling a 1-1 slider from Lieber into the seats in right field to lead off the second inning. Then it was Adam Dunn’s turn. Then, two batters later, it was Paul Bako. Three batters later, Jerry Hairston Jr. applied the coup de grace by parking a 3-1 Lieber offering for a two-run shot to stake Edinson Volquez (5-1) to a five-run lead.
That was considerably more run support than Volquez would need on this day, but the Reds weren’t through whacking the Cubs just yet. Brandon Phillips and Votto whacked Sean Marshall back-to-back in the fifth inning. Phillips clanged the first pitch off the foul pole in left, and Votto followed by depositing a 2-0 fastball over the wall in left-center. Votto also whacked Sean Gallagher in the sixth, parking a 1-0 fastball in left-center for a two-run shot.
Meanwhile, Volquez kept putting up goose eggs, throwing seven shutout innings, notching ten strikeouts, and lowering his ERA to a league-leading 1.06 before giving way to David Weathers in the eighth and Jeremy Affeldt in the ninth. The Cubs couldn’t score against them either, and suffered their 9th loss in their last 13 games.
The four-homer inning tied a team record last accomplished in old Riverfront Stadium on August 17, 1996 when Eddie Taubensee, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Branson, and Barry Larkin played Whack-A-Rockie.
Volquez has allowed one earned run or less in each of his starts so far this season. That’s something no Reds pitcher has done, at least not since the Elias Sports Bureau started keeping earned runs as a statistic in 1912. Meanwhile, the Reds have scored 44 runs in Volquez’ five wins, including eight or more runs five times (in the two starts he didn’t win, the Reds were shut out).
Votto became the 23rd Red to hit three homers in a game. The last before today was Aaron Boone, who played Whack-A-Cardinal on May 8, 2003. The seven homers set a new Reds’ team single-game record at GABP, and is the most homers the Reds have hit in a game since they set an NL record with nine while playing Whack-A-Phillie at Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia on September 4, 1999.
Next up for the Reds is a three-game series against the Mets in New York beginning on Friday.