Huge homestand awaits Reds
JUL 03, 2014 6:55p ET
The Reds survived the first two months of their schedule, wading through a myriad of injuries and setbacks. They recovered from losing a game at home in which they held leads of 8-0 and 9-3.
The Reds are again in need of a bounce back as they return from a 10-game road trip that began with a blaze but petered out in San Diego.
The Reds (43-41) open up an 11-game homestand Friday night with the first of a three-game series against NL Central division-leading Milwaukee.
The Cubs are in for five games, including a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday, followed by Pittsburgh for three games. The Reds are a combined 17-8 against those three teams this season and haven't lost a series yet to any of them.
They're going to need to be that good against them in these next 10 days. The Reds will also have to be much better than the 19-18 home record they've put together so far this season if they are going to cut into the seven-game deficit the Brewers currently hold against them prior to the All-Star break. Heading into Thursday's off day, the Reds were in fourth place in the division, 1.5 games behind St. Louis and one game behind Pittsburgh.
"You have to be resilient in the baseball season, we know that," manager Bryan Price told reporters after Wednesday's loss. "The Giants didn't quit after we won four games in San Francisco and we're certainly not going to hang things up because we lost three here, but it hurts."
San Francisco beat St. Louis 5-0 on Tuesday night in its first game since the Reds left the Bay Area.
The Reds responded to blowing an 8-0 lead at home against Toronto and losing 14-9 on June 20 by winning eight of their next nine games before being swept by the Padres. The offense that had been the catalyst for the win streak went into hibernation in Southern California, scoring just two runs while being shut out twice.
"We set our goals high. Basically, the offense wasn't there. That's not us and we know it," said third baseman Todd Frazier. "You take four from San Francisco and you come back here, hoping to go 8-2, 9-1, and then this happens. You tip your caps to them, they had great pitching. But overall, we know we are a better hitting team."
They have been a better hitting team for the past month. Much of that coincided with the return of Joey Votto to the lineup. Even though Votto continues to struggle because of a bad left knee, his presence in the lineup allows for more balance throughout the order. In the 22 games since Votto came off the DL, the Reds have averaged five runs per game.
The Reds led the National League with a .327 batting average with runners in scoring position, an area that had been of great deficiency in the first two months of the season as well as throughout 2013. Prior to arriving in San Diego, the Reds had scored multiple runs in an inning 25 times over a stretch of 20 games.
None of that mattered against the Padres. Now the trick will be for the Reds to forget about the Padres series and move on. They've done a decent job of that so far this season. They are still in the division race and in the chase to grab one of the two wildcard spots. They have a problem in that among the eight teams in the NL currently playing above .500, they are team No. 8. They've got teams to climb past.
The Reds have past the point of just surviving. If they are going to make a move this season, this homestand is the place they have to start.