MLB: Colt Keith, Riley Greene lead Tigers’ charge vs. Reds

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Colt Keith and Riley Greene are proving to be a formidable duo in the top third of the Detroit Tigers’ lineup.

“It’s a tough combo to go through when they’re both swinging the bat well,” manager A.J. Hinch said. “It puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher from the get-go. Riley has been doing this pretty much the whole year. Colt has been getting better and better.”

The Tigers will be count on that again Saturday in the second of three games against the host Cincinnati Reds.

Keith, batting second, went deep twice for his first career multi-homer outing, and Greene, hitting third, added his team-leading 17th in the Tigers’ series-opening, 5-4 win on Friday.

Keith has homered in consecutive games for the first time. He has hit safely in three straight and four of his past five games. The 22-year-old rookie is batting .286 (16-for-56) since June 18.

Greene went 3-for-4 and was a triple away from the cycle on Friday. Against the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday, he fell a double shy of the cycle. He is 8-for-16 through the first few days of July.

Part of his success this season has come from the work he is putting in to try to avoid grounders.

“My big thing in the box is being in a strong hitting position at release,” he said. “Down in my legs, ready to launch right when (the pitcher) is releasing that ball. That’s going to help me get the air in the ball, because if you’re late, things rush, and you hit the ball on the ground.”

Detroit, which has alternated losses and wins over the past six games, hasn’t logged consecutive victories since a three-game run from June 2-4. That stretch was also the last time the Tigers were triumphant in consecutive road games.

The Tigers had yet to announce their Saturday starter as of late Friday night.

Cincinnati, meanwhile, continues to search for consistency. The Reds fell in the opener against Detroit in their return home following a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees.

Reds second baseman Jonathan India said pregame, “It’s definitely big for us. We want to finish (before the All-Star break) above .500. You want to show the city that we’re going to fight to be a playoff team this year and show everyone that we’re gonna be a playoff team. So yeah, it’s a big week for us.”

After going 3-for-5 with a homer in the series finale against the Yankees on Thursday, India was held to one hit in four at-bats on Friday. It was a rare quiet night for India, who entered the game batting .369 with 17 RBIs, 16 extra-base hits, 23 runs and a 1.033 OPS in 30 games since the start of June.

The Reds will turn to Hunter Greene (5-4, 3.70 ERA) as they aim to even the series. The right-hander, who will be facing Detroit for the first time in his career, lost his past two starts and did not make it to the end of the fifth inning in either outing.

–Field Level Media

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