Having an 8 game lead heading into St. Louis with 29 games to play evokes a feeling of euphoria. This feeling hasn’t surrounded the Reds in a while. It feels different, sure, but it’s a good kind of different.
Of the Reds 29 remaining games, only 10 are against opponents with winning records (St. Louis – 3, Colorado – 4, San Diego -4). All 10 are on the road where the Reds are 37-28 (.569) this season. The Cardinals don’t really have it so easy. They have 31 games left and play 15 against winning teams (Reds – 3, Atlanta – 4, San Diego – 4, Colorado -4). The Cards will also have to play every division leader (Cincy, Atlanta and San Diego). Only the Atlanta four-game series is away from Busch.
An added bonus for the Reds is that they will enjoy 2 off days during September (23rd and 27th) while St. Louis will have zero. Zilch. Nary a one. The Cards will play 31 games in 31 days. They had an off day scheduled for Sept. 20, but MLB slated a makeup game against the Florida Marlins for that date. In fact, the Redbirds will be in four towns within a six day span (St. Louis, Miami, Pittsburgh and Chicago).
If Reds skipper Dusty Baker still believes that 90 is “the number”, Cincinnati could go 12-17 in their remaining 29 to achieve that “goal”. St. Louis would have to play outstanding baseball and compile a 21-10 record in their remaining 31.
Throw this in the mix. The Reds are also in a position to play for something far more than the NL Central crown. They are playing for the best record in the NL. By 4 percentage points, the Reds have the best record right now. Home field throughout the playoffs (and the World Series) is at stake as well. To have that home field advantage would not only revitalize and entire franchise and fanbase, but also the whole metro Cincinnati area. The bandwagon could get full really fast.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The Reds cannot rest on this lead. I was told in high school that those that do not study history are doomed to repeat it. So, I studied a bit. I didn’t have to go back in time all that much to discover that leads are never safe.
One of the worst collapses in MLB history occurred in 2007. On September 12 of that year, the New York Mets held a 7 game lead over the Phillies. Within the next 17 days, the Mets lost 8 games in the standings and the NL East. Sound a bit familiar? The Mets kind of pulled a double in 2008 as they blew a 3.5 game lead within 16 days.
Just last season, the Detroit Tigers possessed a 7 game lead on Sept. 6. By the time October began, the lead in the AL Central was down to 3 with 4 games left to play. All the Tigers had to do was split their remaining games to win the division regardless of what the Minnesota Twins did. How’d that work out? Not very well as the Tigers and Twins ended the regular season tied and had to play one more game. The Tigers lost that extra game in extra innings (even though they held a lead in the 10th) and the Twins won the AL Central. Detroit became the first team in MLB history to lose a three game lead with only four games left to play.
It’s not a done deal. It’s close, but there’s more work to be done and I’m sure every Reds player will tell you that. It all reverts back to what we’ve been hearing from Dusty and the guys all season…winning series. If the Reds can win the series in St. Louis, they will add another game to their NL Central lead heading into Denver for four with the Rockies.
I’ve heard that even if the Cards pull off a sweep, it’s not a big deal because the Reds will still own a 5 game lead. No worries. Not true. The lead will be there merely based on the standings and nothing more. What about confidence and momentum? I know the Reds bounced back after the Cards sweep at GABP. Could that be duplicated?
Keep winning series and all is solved. That is how the Reds amassed that 8 game lead.