The Cincinnati Reds defeated the Miami Marlins 7-2 on Sunday, avoiding a series sweep and keeping pace with the St. Louis Cardinals, who downed the Baltimore Orioles, 8-3. As hard as it may be to believe after the wallowing the Reds have done throughout 2014, Sunday’s win leaves them very much in control of their post-season hopes. Indeed, the next two weeks will determine the fate of the 2014 Cincinnati Reds.
After an off day today, the Reds will host the Boston Red Sox for two games at Great American Ball Park before heading on the road to face the Colorado Rockies. Both of those teams are buried in last place in their divisions, and both have generous pitching staffs that should help the Reds’ hitting continue to get healthy. Both teams will also challenge the Reds’ pitching staff, which has been one of the best in the game in 2014 but has struggled a bit lately.
Sitting five games out in the division and two-and-a-half back in the Wild Card standings, the Reds need to sweep both of these series. Unreasonable? Maybe, but that’s the situation at hand.
By taking the next five, the Reds would head into St. Louis next Monday (August 18) no worse than 2.5 games behind the Cardinals and half a game back of the Atlanta Braves, whom the Reds host for four games at GABP from August 21-24. The schedule makers were on the money this year, as the Cardinals and Braves just happen to be two of the teams that the Reds need to put in the their rearview mirror in order to still be playing baseball come October.
The path forward for the Reds is simple, then, if not easy. Sweep the next two series against bottom dwellers and then win their two series against the Cardinals and Braves.
If they can do that, Cincinnati will be in position to fight in earnest for a playoff spot in September, and the pressure once again will be on general manager Walt Jocketty to fill whatever holes are left before the August 31 playoff-roster trade deadline.
If the Reds can’t pull of this feat, well, then we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we? No team seems to be capable of running away with anything this season, so the Reds just keep hanging around despite their best efforts to wither away.