The Cincinnati Reds look to move a season-high seven games over .500 on Tuesday when they host the opener of a two-game interleague series against the Minnesota Twins.
The Reds posted their fifth win in six outings with a 7-1 defeat of the New York Mets on Sunday. The recent surge in the standings has Cincinnati entertaining thoughts about returning to the playoffs for a second straight season.
"The more success we've had, there's a growing confidence, a growing expectation I think that any good team any of us have been a part of, it just exists where you expect good things to happen," Reds manager David Bell said. "Because you believe in yourself, you believe in your teammates."
Although Joey Votto received a day off on Sunday, Cincinnati still received plenty of bang for its buck at the first base position. Rookie Max Schrock went deep among his five hits while taking the place of the 37-year-old Votto, who saw his franchise-best seven-game homer streak come to a halt on Saturday.
"It worked out perfectly," Bell said.
Jesse Winker has 16 hits, two homers, seven RBIs and eight runs scored in his past 10 games. Winker, however, went 1-for-9 with three strikeouts as Cincinnati split an abbreviated two-game series against Minnesota from June 21-22.
The Reds also may be receiving reinforcements in the form of Nick Castellanos, who could be activated from the injured list prior to the series. Castellanos, who is tied for the team lead in RBIs (59) with Votto and Winker, has been sidelined with a right wrist microfracture since July 19.
Cincinnati right-hander Tyler Mahle (8-3, 3.71 ERA) will get the nod on Tuesday. He posted his first win since July 16, scattering five hits over six scoreless innings in an 8-2 romp at the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday.
Mahle, however, has struggled at home with a 6.07 ERA while surrendering 13 homers in nine starts this season.
The 26-year-old sports a 1-0 record with a 3.55 ERA in three career starts versus Minnesota. He received a no-decision against the Twins on June 21 after permitting three runs on five hits in four innings.
Minnesota will counter with right-hander Kenta Maeda (4-4, 4.40) on Tuesday. Maeda was left with a no-decision against the Detroit Tigers in his last outing despite yielding one run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings.
Maeda owns a 2-1 record with a 3.54 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) versus the Reds. Votto, however, is 3-for-8 with two extra-base hits (double, homer) against the 33-year-old Maeda.
Jorge Polanco continued his torrid stretch at the plate with a solo homer in the Twins' 7-3 setback to the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday. Polanco is 11-for-28 with two homers, three RBIs and seven runs scored during his six-game hitting streak.
"I feel really good," Polanco said. "I had an All-Star season and I want to get another one. I've just got to keep working, man. Keep working and try to get better every day."
The tumbling Twins are struggling to do just that as a team. They have lost 12 of their past 17 games and reside in the cellar of the American League Central.
--Field Level Media