The Reds start the 2nd half of the season in first place by themselves for only the 6th time in the last 30 years. This doesn't mean anything in terms of this season, or really for any season for that matter, but it's still a reason to feel good. Obviously the real goal is to be in first on the last day of the season, but after a decade of futility, take some time to celebrate the little victories along the way. (For those interested, the previous 5 years were 1995, 1994, 1992, 1990, and 1987.)
You know what's funny is that almost any other season but this year, we'd be talking about Johnny Cueto as a possible All-Star selection for the Reds. With the team playing the way it has this year, he almost seems like an afterthought. It's amazing what a little winning can do to change your perspective.
Cueto has allowed just 2 runs in his last 24 innings pitched since that disaster of a second inning versus the Royals back on the June 12 when he gave up 5 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks. Perhaps the most shining aspect of his current run is that he's only thrown 20 pitches in an inning twice over his last 2 starts, and both of those were exactly 20 pitches. He's averaged just 13.2 pitches an inning over those two starts. If Cueto ever learns to be truly pitch efficient, look out brother.
Right-hander Randy Wells hasn't been able to follow up his stellar rookie season with much success on the mound this year, but that doesn't mean the Reds can take him lightly. He did a good job of handling the Reds in 3 of his 4 starts against them last year and he has managed to bust out a quality start every now and then this year. Two days after managing 16 hits and a day after scoring 12 runs, I'd love to see the Reds continue their offensive outburst in Chicago today.
If they do, it'll be a new lineup doing it. Chris Heisey gets the start in center and is batting second behind Brandon Phillips. Jonny Gomes gets a rest against a right-hander a day after he starts hitting again and Laynce Nix will be patrolling left field and batting 7th. And some guy named Paul Janish is playing shortstop and batting 8th tonight. I guess they just called him up or something.
Go Reds! Win so that we can make those white hats tolerable!