Joey Votto returns to the lineup, and his hometown, as the red-hot Reds battle the Blue Jays

Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto gives a press conference.
Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto gives a press conference. / Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
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Who is the hottest team in the National League? Believe it or not, Reds Country, but it's your Redlegs. Both the Cincinnati Reds (11-26) and San Francisco Giants have won seven of their last 10 games and the Reds have been victorious in eight of their last dozen contests following a two-game sweep of the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field.

Granted, when you start 3-22, you're trying to pull your season from the bottom of the ocean-type depth, but there's no denying Cincinnati has been playing excellent baseball over the past two weeks. What's even more encouraging is the Reds are receiving positive contributions, not only from the offense but the starting rotation as well.

Entering play yesterday, Cincinnati starters have compiled an impressive 2.05 ERA over their previous seven outings and have allowed just 21 hits in 44 innings of work. Right-hander Tyler Mahle certainly held up his end of the bargain yesterday by tossing 6.1 frames of one-run, two-hit baseball in a 4-2 victory over the Guardians.

The Reds are one of the hottest team in baseball.

On the other hand, the Toronto Blue Jays (20-18) are flying in the opposite direction. The Jays have dropped seven of 10 and trail the scorching New York Yankees by eight games in the ultra-competitive American League East.

For a team built on offense, the Jays have been surprisingly mediocre at the plate. As a team, they are slashing .234/.300/.378 barely eclipsing the AL average slash line of .232/.301/.373 in two of the three categories.

Last year's runner-up in the AL MVP voting, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., is off to an excellent start slashing .284/.368/.470 with seven homers and 21 ribbies. During the 2021 campaign, the 23-year-old slugger led the junior circuit in runs scored, home runs, OBP, slugging, OPS, OPS+, and total bases. Needless to say, he'll present an incredible challenge for the Cincinnati pitching staff.

Cincinnati is just 2-7 lifetime when visiting Toronto, and this will be their first trip to Canada since the 2017 season. Amazingly, the last Cincinnati Reds pitcher to win a game at the Rogers Centre was Johnny Cueto in June 2009, when Willy Taveras and Joey Votto went a combined 7-for-10 in a Reds 7-5 victory.