The earliest the Reds can clinch the division is on Friday. I'll say it now. I don't think they'll clinch on Friday. They can still do it on Saturday though, and that'd be sweet, especially because they're playing on national TV that day. Who doesn't want to hear Tim McCarver wax poetic about the Reds as they storm the field? Yeah, me either.
Whenever they do eventually clinch though, that's not the real issue. The real issue is clinching some sort of home field advantage. The reason is, not only do the Reds play much better at home, but so does everybody else. The remaining 7 contenders have a .632 winning percentage at home this year, compared to .501 on the road. Whoever gets home field advantage will definitely have an advantage. Heck, even when it comes to head-to-head matchups, the Reds are better off at home. Versus those same 7 teams, the Reds are 9-7 at home this year. On the road they are just 1-12. Obviously, none of that truly matters when it comes time to play the games in the playoffs, but boy would I sure feel more comfortable if the Reds were the home team more often (especially because I'd get to see more games in person!).
Yonder Alonso is in the starting lineup tonight in place of the still ailing Joey Votto. It will be Alonso's first start in the big leagues ever. I expect nothing less than 6 home runs from him. Can you say Wally Pipp? Oh, you can. Good.
The magic number is four. FOUR! It's still too high.