Sep 25, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) is shakes hands with manager Bryan Price (38) after the Reds defeated the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3 at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 Cincinnati Reds ended up as such a sad-sack team that they couldn’t even play the spoiler role the way they wanted. A week after their victory over the St. Louis Cardinals somehow didn’t interfere with the Cards’ clinching a playoff spot, the Reds beat the Milwaukee Brewers 5-3, eliminating Brew Crew from post-season consideration.
While Milwaukee is a fine team and city, every self-respecting Reds fan in the 2010s holds the St. Louis Cardinals as Baseball Enemy #1. If the Reds can’t win and make the playoffs, keeping St. Louis’ home in October would have been something of a salve for the raw season just concluding.
Instead, the Cardinals were able to dance into October despite last Sunday’s loss to Cincy, even though St. Louis is facing a late charge from the Pittsburgh Pirates for the division title.
The Reds, on the other hand, have continued to spiral in the second half, having fallen from the heights of “hottest team in baseball” to afterthought in the second half. Outings like the one on Thursday are most notable not for the outcome of the game but for the signs they might hold about the Reds’ future.
Against the Brewers, for example, second baseman Brandon Phillips hit a home run, his first in about a three months.
Rookie pitcher David Holmberg collected his second career victory in his sixth career start. At 23, he figures to be a key to Cincinnati’s success in the coming years, particularly if the team blows up their rotation this off-season as many expect.
Right fielder Jay Bruce knocked out three hits, doubling his season total in the process (OK, not quite). That barrage raised his seasonal average all the way to .219, which actually looks pretty solid next to his .377 slugging percentage.
In short, you could take a few good omens from the Reds’ performance in eliminating the Brewers, if you were so inclined and feeling particularly optimistic about the future on the Riverfront.
With October looming and a long, cold winter to follow, though, crushing the Cardinals would have been a lot nicer of a send-off to our lost 2014.