CLEVELAND — Tyler Naquin opened the month of May filling in for the injured Jonathan India as the Reds leadoff hitter, but couldn’t shake a slump and also missed time on the COVID IL. On May 8, manager David Bell moved Naquin down in the order and he’s batted fifth, sixth or seventh since.
Starting May 9, Naquin went on a tear. The quality of his swing was on display during the Reds’ 4-2 win over the Guardians on Thursday for a two-game series sweep at Progressive Field. His solo home run in the fifth inning tied the game and he scored the go-ahead run in a rally during the three-run top of the eighth.
Naquin, normally a right fielder who was the designated hitter on Thursday, is batting .424 (14-for-33) in nine games since May 9 with two homers and eight RBIs.
“I like RBIs,” Naquin said of moving down in the order. These guys get on base and whoever it is in the middle of the lineup, [Joey] Votto, [Colin] Moran, [Mike Moustakas], any of these guys. We look to do damage any time, pick your spots and get your swings off. You’re always looking to square it up.”
With Cincinnati, trailing, 1-0, Naquin did just that when he hit a first-pitch changeup from Cal Quantrill into the seats in left-center field for a game-tying solo home run — his second in two games. Statcast estimated the home…