Even though the cliche of "one step forward, two steps back" has a more dramatic ring, the steppin' has been about 1:1 lately for the Reds. Despite losing 4 out of 6 since last Friday, they're exactly where they started that one-week stretch: 2 games back of first place. The team is on course to score fewer runs and allow more over 2011 than last season, but the NL Central competition may be diluting the number of runs/wins necessary to take first place. Milwaukee currently holds first place with the record Pythag predicts the Reds should have based on their win differential. The biggest change a three or four team race introduces is the a lower margin of error with the context of potentially less wins necessary to take the division. And with 3-4 good (read: above-.500) teams in the division, the chances increase of one team going on a tear or making a difference-making trade, leaving everyone chewing their Midwestern dirt.
So the Reds should feel lucky to still be within spitting distance of first place. And they should not sit on their laurels. I'm not sure how earnestly Walt is looking for pitching help, but with Volquez's 2011 option already burned and Wood out of the rotation, The Wagon now takes sole possession of the Target-sponsored BP jersey. Ironically, the run support rant that helped send Volquez to AAA has more currency since he's returned. But I still think we'll be laughing about the June power outage sometime in August. Possibly from the safety of a padded cell.