CINCINNATI — Edwin Encarnacion conducted most of his postgame interview Tuesday night in Spanish.
But after homering twice and scoring the winning run on an eighth-inning wild pitch in Cleveland’s 8-7 victory over Cincinnati, the former Red didn’t need a translator when asked if he still enjoyed hitting at Great American Ball Park.
“Yeah,” Encarnacion said with a big smile. “Of course.”
The Reds’ home is a hitter’s park, and Cincinnati pitchers are rather welcoming to opposing batters. Both of Encarnacion’s home runs came off Reds rookie Amir Garrett, who gave up four homers Tuesday and now has surrendered 11 in his last 25 1/3 innings.
Encarnacion was signed as a free agent this past offseason with the hope he’d be the final piece to the Indians’ championship puzzle. Instead, he entered Tuesday hitting only .208 and only .116 with runners in scoring position (5 for 43).
But Encarnacion is showing signs of heating up. He crushed a would-be go-ahead homer that hooked just foul on Monday. In his first at-bat Tuesday, he ripped a liner that landed barely foul before grounding out.
“I feel really good and I feel better every single day,” he said, this time in Spanish.
Encarnacion hit a two-run homer in Cleveland’s five-run third inning and added a solo homer in the fifth.
“It was more mistakes I made,” Garrett said, “and he just put great swings on them. He’s a great hitter.”
Garrett had been superb early this season, but he is firmly in a growing-pains phase now. The left-hander's second start after a detour to the minor leagues to save his innings count was not a pretty one.
In addition to the long balls yielded to Encarnacion, Garrett also gave up homers to Francisco Lindor and Yan Gomes.
Encarnacion’s second homer gave Cleveland a 7-3 lead, but the Reds rallied in the seventh.
Boone Logan replaced Indians starter Carlos Carrasco and gave up a single to his only batter, Joey Votto. Bryan Shaw allowed a run-scoring single to Adam Duvall. Pinch-hitter Eugenio Suarez then lined a tying three-run homer to right.
But the Indians regained the lead for good without benefit of a hit in the eighth. Encarnacion reached when third baseman Scooter Gennett booted a double-play grounder after a leadoff walk to Bradley Zimmer. After a force-out and fly ball that moved Encarnacion to third, Drew Storen threw a 2-and-1 pitch in the dirt that got past catcher Devin Mesoraco and let Encarnacion score.
The Reds threatened in both the eighth and ninth but couldn’t tie it. In the eighth, right fielder Daniel Robertson threw out the speedy Jose Peraza at home with a perfect throw on a single by Zack Cozart off Andrew Miller.
In the ninth, closer Cody Allen walked Votto and allowed a one-out single to Tucker Barnhart but ended the game by getting Mesoraco to pop up and striking out Gennett.