Jonathan India leads off third, and hits a two-run home run as the Reds win

CHICAGO – Even before TJ Friedel entered the injury list two weeks ago, Reds coach David Bell considered a line-up change and shared his thoughts with Jonathan India. Bell wanted to move India out of the lead position to bat at third and pin Friedel at the top of the order.

India was on board with the change, which took effect for the first time on Tuesday once Friedl was activated. The offensive jolt Bell had been hoping for came to fruition Saturday during an 8-5 win over the Cubs. Friedel reached three and scored twice while India scored three hits with a pair of home runs and tied a career high with five RBI.

India said, “I’ve been missing out on the third most of my life—high school, college, and upcoming minors.” “I fell in one hole because of the team we had our rookie year on, which was a great team… I’ll hit first here and there, like with a left on the mound. I feel at home there.”

With one out in the third with the Reds trailing, 4-1, Friedel hit a line to right center field off Jameson Tyone and scrambled all the way for a double. Two strikes later, India lined up with an RBI single to left and was thrown to second base trying to get a double.

There were two outs in the fifth inning when Friedel made a five-pitch walk. Then he stole second base.

Matt McClain bunted the ball to right field, but it was enough to score Friedel and force Taeyeon out of the game.

“It was a big run,” Bell said. “The way it happened was a really beautiful thing. Great base, stolen base. You don’t always have to hit it hard.”

Michael Fullmer took over from the Cubs to face India, whose fastball drove a 1-0 run into the wind to right field for a two-run homer and a 5-4 lead for the Reds.

India joked, “If that ball had been caught, my bat would have been in the stands.” “I hit two balls yesterday I hit them hard and they didn’t hit. I tied these two balls tonight.”

In the seventh inning, with McLain on first base after a leadoff single, India racked up another two-run homer on a first pitch that saw off reliever Jeremiah Estrada for a four-run lead.

India started 221 matches in first place for Cincinnati. But having Friedel and rookie McLean in first and second provided contact and pace. It provided more separation between two left-handed hitters in the lineup – Friedel and cleanup hitter Jake Fraley – to make it more difficult for opponents to use a walk reliever against both.

“It’s worked out really well,” said Friedel. “And whether it’s John leading or I leading, we know our role and we know what we need to do – get on base, move around, steal bases, make things happen. I feel like no matter where we are in the standings, we’re all We know our role whether we’re first, second, or third. He’s a big part of this team. Everyone knows their role and does their part. It’s the momentum we need as an offense.”

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Bell also felt that the new look gave his lineup more length and created more production opportunities in the lower part of the order. Spencer Steer, one of the hottest players on the team, finished sixth and Nick Senzel moved into seventh. Senzel’s RBI single in the second inning gave the Reds a breakout lead.

“Just having the lineup as deep as possible is important,” Bell said Tuesday.

At 23-29 after winning the first two games of the three-game series in Chicago, the Reds trail by percentage points behind the third-place Cardinals and just four games behind the first-place Brewers.

815 OPS in 52 games this season, which has been a terrific rebound from an injury-plagued 22 season where his production plummeted. He is enjoying his personal renaissance while helping improve the Reds.

“It feels great,” he said. “I’m healthy this year. It’s a big part of my success. It’s good baseball this year. We’ve got a good team and it’s fun to play with these guys. It carries the momentum and I feed everyone. I just love it.”

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