PSEUDO-DL UPDATE: Rolen and Renteria are both "healthy" and in the lineup.
It feels like the Reds have been on the razor's edge for the nearly a month. A few wins and a few solid starting pitching performances and they look like they could go on a tear. A few early exits by starters, an off-night from the bats and they're suddenly in danger of slipping below .500 - and below the putatively magical 5 game back mark - into irrelevance. But the team has done neither since that 6 game losing streak ended on May 24 (not that it's even possible to tank your season in early June if you're somewhere around .500). There have been no streaks longer than 2 wins or losses since that point. And the Reds are currently doing a neat little WW-LL pattern since June 1. The way this team plays makes me feel like some kind of nearly-insane, much dumber version of Russell Crowe's John Nash from A Beautiful Mind. I'm seeing patterns of numbers everywhere and scrawling them in to fogged-up window panes and waking up in cold sweat after a bad dream about Baseball Reference. It's not healthy. The Reds need to start winning a lot of games. It's my only way out of this mind trap.
Ripping off a bunch of wins is going to be a tall order this month. But this West Coast portion shouldn't seem as daunting as it has in recent history. The Reds made the swing last year in August against the Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Giants and it ended up being traumatic, but successful at 6-3. This April's visit to Arizona and San Diego went down as a tolerable 3-3. The Giants are World Champs and have regained 1st place in the NL West, but Madinson Bumgarner's 2-7 record, despite putting together a roughly Goodroyo-style season so far, hints to the team's major weakness. Scoring. They've only scored 5 more runs than they've allowed, which tells us they maybe shouldn't have won all of those 35 games.
Cueto is exactly the pitcher you'd hope to lead off West Coast swing, but the Reds can get away with a few sub-Cueto performances if they're able to get to Bumgarner, Vogelson and Lincecum. Or at least make them throw pitches. With the hope that Cueto, Volquez and (coming soon) Bailey start lining up like a more legitimate 1-2-3 sometime soon, it's okay to feel some optimism against teams like the Giants. But what must happen, above all, is for innings to be eaten. Come on, it's good roughage.
|2011 - Johnny Cueto
|2011 - Madison Bumgarner