Well, we have officially reached the All-Star break and our Redlegs could certainly use the time off. After 44 games, I provided a 1st Quarter report on the team. At that point, the Reds were sitting pretty with a 25-19 record. The 2nd quarter was not as kind to the Reds, who were 8 games under .500 (20-28) during that period. The leaves the Reds with a 45-47 record on the year, in fourth place in the division and 4 games out of first-place.
2nd Quarter Awards
- Q2 MVP – Johnny Cueto. It wasn’t all gloom and doom for the Reds in the 2nd quarter. Cueto was simply magnificent on the mound. Since May 20th (start of Q2) Cueto has started 9 games. While his record during that stretch was 5-4, he deserved much better. Cueto allowed 3 earned runs or fewer in each of the 9 starts. In the 2nd quarter, Cueto average over 7 innings and less than 2 runs per start, which translated to a 2.11 ERA during that stretch. He pitched toe-to-toe against some of the best pitchers in the game, as he was opposed by the likes of Jair Jurrjens, Clayton Kershaw, David Price, Chris Carpenter, and Shaun Marcum. Quite simply, he became the Reds “ace” in the 2nd quarter of 2011.
- Q2 Best Pitcher – (See above)
- Q2 Disappointment – Scott Rolen. The veteran third-baseman simply hasn’t hit this year. After missing nearly a month in Q1, Rolen has failed to produce in Q2. His batting average on May 20th was .276 with an OPS of .780. Those certainly are not the numbers you hope to get from 3B, but not terrible either. Since May 20th, his average has dropped more than 30 points, and he currently sports an OPS under .700. While Rolen still provides very good defense, his lack of offense has left a gaping hole in the Reds lineup.
How They Got Here
The 2nd quarter started ugly, as the Reds were swept by their in-state rival, the Indians, in Cleveland. It didn’t get much better in Philadelphia as the Reds lost 3 of 4 to the Phillies. After taking the opening game in Atlanta, the Braves won the next two games, handing the Reds their 3rd straight series loss to open Q2. The Reds then got some “home-cooking” as they took 2 of 3 from the Brewers in Cincinnati. The series win kept the Reds above .500, if only by one game. The Dodgers came into GABP next, but the Reds were able to manage only 1 win in the 3 game series. Luckily, the Cubs were next. The Reds took 2 of 3 from the Cubs, again barely managing to keep their record above .500 (32-31). The dreaded “west-coast trip” was next. Shockingly, the Reds played well in Cali. They managed to win 5 of the 7 games against LA and San Francisco. The west-coast trip also provided the Reds with their first (and only) sweep of Q2 when the Reds took all 3 games in LA. Then inter-league play reared its ugly head. The Reds lost their next 3 series against AL East teams. They played Toronto, the Yankees and Baltimore; managing only 3 wins and 6 losses. The Reds record was, yet again, just one game over .500 (40-39). Then the Reds traveled to Tampa Bay, and impressively took 2 of 3, with their only loss coming on some bad luck. The Reds came back to Cincinnati, and barely avoided being swept by the Indians. The Reds then made their final road-trip before the break. In St. Louis, the Reds managed only one win. In that one win, the Reds managed to blow an 8-run lead, before winning in extra-innings. The trip to Milwaukee came next, and boy was it painful. The Reds lost 3 of 4 to the Brewers. They lost all 3 games by 1 run. All three losses came after Francisco Cordero blew the lead in the 9th. As the Reds headed into the break, the series in Milwaukee seemed to be a microcosm of the entire season to date – missed chances, resulting in 1-run losses.
2011 or 2010?
The 2010 Reds were in much better position after 92 games, with a 51-41 record. It seems that the 2011 Reds are failing to do a couple of things that the 2010 Reds did well. For one, the 2010 Reds managed a winning record (8-7) in interleague games while the 2011 Reds managed a measly 6-12 record against AL teams. Additionally, the 2010 Reds managed to win half of the games decided by 1-run (27-27), whereas the 2011 Reds have been quite bad in 1-run games (13-21).
While the 2011 Reds certainly have deficiencies, I think you can argue that the 13-21 record in 1-run games is a sign that they aren’t as bad as their record may indicate. Often times, 1-run games can be decided by “luck,” – a bloop hit falling in (see Johnny Damon in Tampa Bay). The Reds must hope that the luck swings back in their favor over the 2nd half in order to get back in this race.
The Road Ahead
The Reds first half opponents sported a winning % of .496, so they haven’t played a very difficult schedule thus far. Moving forward, things don’t get any easier. The Reds first 16 games after the break are against 5 opponents with winning records. The Reds will host NL Central leading St. Louis for 3 games, then travel to Pittsburgh to face the surprising Pirates. They will return to Cincinnati for a 10 game home-stand in which the Reds host the Braves, the Mets and the Giants. If the Reds can get through that stretch with the NL Central lead still in sight, they may be in good shape. After the series with the Giants, the Reds play 16 games against teams with losing records (HOU, CHC, COL, SDP, WSN). If the Reds are going to get hot in the second half, this looks like the stretch of games where it could happen.
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