The Cincinnati Reds see an opportunity and plan to take advantage of it. The Reds are in Chicago to play the Cubs who helped the Pittsburgh Pirates off to a good start and served as a tonic for an ailing St. Louis Cardinal offense. One game in the Chicago series the Reds whipped the Cubs 4-1 at Wrigley Field Friday. Apparently the Cubs are just what the doctor ordered.
The Reds are now on a three-game winning streak as Alfredo Simon held Chicago to one unearned run and four hits in six innings to pick up his second victory of the season. Cincinnati is now 7-9 on the season while Chicago fell to 4-11. Simon, something of a journeyman up to this point in his career now has eaten up 21 innings this year for Reds manager Bryan Price and lowered his ERA to 0.86.
After losing four series in a row to start the season the Reds took the final two from the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier this week and now have a chance to do at least that much to the Cubs. Combine all this with an injury list that seems to be healing just in time and the Reds are beginning to assert themselves as contenders in the National League Central again.
Reds General Manger Walt Jocketty had maintained after spring training that given the injuries to the Reds pitching staff, most notably Aroldis Chapman, that he hoped his team could tread water until reinforcements came. Simon did his part Friday. However not all of Friday’s news was good as all-star second basemen Brandon Phillips had to leave the game early with back spasms after flailing at a pitch from Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija.
If Phillips exit turns out to be a precautionary measure then perhaps Jocketty can exhale a little and enjoy a team that appears to be putting things together. If Phillips is out for an extended amount of time it would be hard to blame Jocketty, Price or anyone else with the Reds for beginning to wonder if this is a cursed season.
Cincinnati began to change their fortune when their ace Johnny Cueto shut out the Pirates Wednesday night at Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, clinching their first series win of the season. The Reds winning streak has also been aided by Price inserting slugger Joey Votto in to the number two spot in the order. Six games after doing so the Reds have scored 34 runs after averaging just 2.8 runs in their first ten games of the season.
“Something needed to change, not so much because of the slow start here, but because of our history,” Price elaborated, citing a lineup that had become to familiar to the rest of the National League. Price believes the move also helps the middle of order as Phillips and Ryan Ludwick have compensated well for Votto’s absence in the middle of the order.
The Cincinnati Reds see an opportunity. Whether it comes from the Cubs, a re-configured lineup or just finally putting things together, they are taking advantage of it.
Commentary by Mick Varner
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Cincinnati Reds