Whether it be the sweet, aromatic smell of home or the stench of a losing, struggling team, the Cincinnati Reds put it to use Monday night in Great American Ball Park.
After a 2-6 trip through Arizona, Oakland and Texas, GABP was a beacon in a dark night for the Reds, where they were 26-14 this year before playing the San Francisco Giants.
Ah, yes, the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants — the team that stomped and mashed those suckers flat when they won three straight postseason games here last year to expel the Reds from the playoffs.
But these are not last year’s Giants. So far, not even close. They are the front-runners for the Underachiever’s Trophy. They came to town lugging a six-game losing streak and eight losses in their last 10 games.
And the Reds took advantage, providing starter Bronson Arroyo seven runs in the first three innings en route to an 8-1 victory, a game that was stopped by rain after six innings.
They watched rain turn GABP into the Red Sea, an hour-and-a-half wait. When the Delta Queen docked at third base they decided to call the game.
And this one is true. Umpire crew chief Fieldin Culbreth was willing to wait longer, until water rushed into the umpires dressing room, flooding them out.
It was the first time in 14 games the Reds had scored more than five runs on their home grass.
There was firepower everywhere, mostly from third baseman Todd Frazier. He drove in a run in the four-run second inning with a single and drove in three more in the fourth with a three-run, 441-foot home run that might still be requesting landing instructions at Great Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport.
Shortstop Zack Cozart drove in two runs with a second-inning sacrifice fly and a fifth-inning double.
The Reds inflicted heavy damage on Giants rookie left hander Mike Kickham (Kick him to the curb?) — seven runs and nine hits in only 2 2/3 innings.
“He was throwing his fastball over the plate, first and foremost,” said Frazier. “That might be the best pitch you get to hit all night, so get on it early and often and away you go.
“It was huge to get this win after going 2-6 on the road,” Frazier added. “I’m one of those guys who looks to see where we are in the standings and 5 ½ back, well, that’s not where we should be, even with all the injuries we’ve had. We know we’re a good team and we’re better than this.”
Arroyo was most appreciative of the tumultuous offensive exhibition. While his teammates mained and mauled Kickham, Arroyo held the Giants to one run and two hits. The run came on a home run by Brandon Belt in the fifth inning, when the Red already owned a 7-0 lead.
Arroyo is credited with a complete game and smiled and said, “I’ll take it. Twenty years from now when they look at the back of my baseball card and see a complete game they’ll have no idea (it was only six innings). Hey, this may be the only CG I get all year.”
Said manager Dusty Baker, “He had it going on tonight. He was throwing it where he wanted and when Bronson is like that he is very, very tough. It relaxed him when he got all those runs.”
“It was beautiful, allows you to pitch free and easy,” he said. “It was nice after the road trip we had when we didn’t score a lot of runs, especially on the back half of games. You have a little more room for error, not worry so much about nitpicking.”
The Reds attacked Kickham with an aggression that has been missing in recent games.
“We were more aggressive tonight, not getting deep in the count, attacking the first pitch,” said Baker. “Sometimes that’s what it takes. You don’t know what to do so you go on the attack.”
The Reds finished with 11 hits during the six innings.