Two weeks ago, on May 13, the Reds hosted the Washington Nationals on Mother’s Day, trying to avoid a sweep. They entered play at 16-16, 2.5 games out of first place.
That game will stand out all year for the three home runs hit by Joey Votto, including a walk-off grand slam. However, Votto would not have had a chance to bat if not for a pair of key two-out walks by Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey. Heisey wisely stayed away from a 3-2 pitch and extended the game for the Reds’ best hitter, who launched the ball over the centerfield wall.
Since that game, the left field tandem of Heisey and Ryan Ludwick, which had been a black hole in the Reds lineup to that point, has been on fire.
Heisey has seen the bulk of the playing time and has richly rewarded manager Dusty Baker for the opportunity. From May 14 until last night’s game, in which Heisey and Ludwick each hit three-run bombs, Heisey is batting .405. In this stretch, he has twice as many multi-hit games (six) as he does hitless games (three).
And although Ludwick has seen his playing time decrease, he too is quietly producing. Over the same span, Ludwick is hitting .304 with a pair of home runs and seven runs batted in. Amazingly, he has struck out only one time, compared to 25 times prior to this stretch.
When you add it all up, in 13 games, the duo of Heisey and Ludwick is batting .369 with three home runs and 12 RBI. Ludwick has raised his average by .028 points, Heisey by .077. It’s no coincidence that the Reds are 9-4 in that stretch and have gained four games on the Cardinals in the standings.
While it’s obviously highly unlikely they can sustain this level of production for the remainder of the season, it is promising to see their bats finally wake up after struggling for a month and a half.