It's tough to overstate this past week's euphoria. The Reds took 3 of 4 against the Cardinals to tighten the division race, and in the process drew some blood from an opponent who had gotten the better of them this year. For an encore, the Reds swept the league's hottest team. They twice walked off against LA, and won all three games by just one run. Ain't much better than meaningful and dramatic September baseball.
The Reds' torrid week - and St. Louis' weekend sweep of Pittsburgh - narrowed the Central considerably. The Reds now sit just 1.5 games behind the Cardinals and are virtually tied with the Pirates. They're all good teams separated by narrow margins, but obsessing over those margins is what we do. Taking a look at Baseball Prospectus' adjusted standings, you'll notice that Pittsburgh has outplayed their Pythag by 5 games while the Reds and Cardinals have slightly under-performed theirs. You'll also see that by third-order record (which considers the underlying stats as opposed to raw runs scored/allowed, as well as the strength of schedule), the Reds are tops in the National League. I'm a big fan of junk stats when they favor my team.
There's no coasting with the Central at stake, even on a Monday night against the Cubs. Plus, the Reds draw a tough lefty in Travis Wood. The reluctance to trade within your division has never made sense from a strictly practical point of view, but it's also no fun to face off several times a year against a strong opposing pitcher who was once in your control. Wood had a rough start in Chicago but has rebounded well this season, with about 180 innings and a low-3 ERA to his credit. Four of his starts have come against Cincinnati, and three of them were good ones. That Chicago lost all four games speaks much more to their hitting and fielding ineptitude than Wood's efforts.
Hopefully, the Reds' run against the Cubs (13-3) continues tonight. St. Louis is off, giving the Reds a chance to pull within 1 game of the lead. Meanwhile, things don't look to get any easier for the Pirates, who are suddenly stuck on Win 81 and get to face Yu Darvish in Texas. Have fun with that, Pittsburgh.
Cubs: Castro 6 Valbuena 5 Rizzo 3 Navarro 2 Schierholtz 9 Sweeney 8 Bogusevic 7 Barney 4 Wood 1
Reds: Choo 8 Phillips 4 Votto 3 Bruce 4 Frazier 5 Ludwick 7 Cozart 6 Hanigan 2 Arroyo 1
|Reliever||9/4||9/5||9/6||9/7||9/8||5 day totals|
|Aroldis Chapman||1.0, 14p||1.0, 20p||1.0, 13p||1.0, 10p||4.0 IP, 57 pitches
|Sam LeCure||0.2, 15p||1.0, 12p||1.0, 11p||2.2 IP, 38 pitches
|J.J. Hoover||2.0, 39p||1.0, 17p||0.2, 9p||3.2 IP, 65 pitches
|Manny Parra||1.0, 16p||0.1, 1p||1.1 IP, 17 pitches|
|Logan Ondrusek||2.0, 29p||2.0 IP, 29 pitches|
|Alfredo Simon||3.0, 30p||0.2, 8p||
3.2 IP, 38 pitches
|Zach Duke||0.1, 6p||0.2, 2p||0.1, 6p||0.1, 4p||1.2IP, 18 pitches
|Curtis Partch||0.0 IP, 0 pitches
|Greg Reynolds||0.0 IP, 0 pitches
||0.0 IP, 0 pitches
OH, AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY BILLY HAMILTON!!!