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Apr 8, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips (4) dives and throws out St. Louis Cardinals right fielder Carlos Beltran (not pictured) during the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. Cincinnati defeated St. Louis 13-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Examining the Crowd at the Top of the National League Central

The Reds just can’t seem to catch the St. Louis Cardinals. No matter the size of their own winning streak, the Cards win at a rate that still keeps them at bay.

After the debacle at GABP yesterday, when the Reds blew a 4-0 lead and lost in overtime to the Cubs 5-4, the Cards did their part and beat the Dodgers sending the Reds back another game. They now stand deadlocked with the Pittsburgh Pirates in second place 1 1/2 games out.

If you think that the Reds have been cursed with the voodoo doll syndrome, think again. Two of the Cards’ starters, Jake Westbrook and Jaime Garcia are already on the shelf. Since April 29 St. Louis has given five pitchers – Seth Maness, Carlos Martinez, John Gast, Tyler Lyons and now Michael Blazek, their first MLB call-up. Yet, they keep winning.

While the Reds have had the misfortune of landing on three losing streaks, sizes 5, 3 and 2, the Redbirds have kept losing streaks at a manageable number. They only show two losing streaks so far, a 3 game and a 2 game. It is impossible to catch somebody who refuses to lose a series.

Look at this: In 16 series this season the Cards have only lost two. The Reds too have played 16 series so far, and have dropped six of them. That, my friend, is why the Reds cannot gain ground regardless of their own success.

In the two series they have played one another, both in St. Louis, the Cards won them and are currently 4-2 against their rivals. The next chance the Reds will have to knock heads with the Cardinals will be June 7 at GABP.

Since April 15 the Reds have a record of 26-12 which computes to a .684 percentage, which is better than any team has for the season. Since that date the Cards have a record of 25-12, or .676. That is saying that in the past 38 games the Reds have only gained 1/2 game while chasing the leaders.

To throw the Pirates in the same mix, they have only lost four of their series this season. Since April 15, they are 25-13, or .657. Wouldn’t you think it is fair to say that the three hottest teams in the National League are in the Central Division? They are, at least in terms of wins and winning percent.

Health issues seem to mean nothing to the front-running Cardinals. No matter who goes out, somebody steps up, in similar fashion to the way Ryan Ludwick, Brandon Phillips and Todd Frazier did last year for Cincinnati.

In my humble opinion the Reds have the best starting rotation in MLB. Bronson Arroyo has the highest ERA of the five starters at 3.39. I will take that any day.

With what we have seen so far it is apparent that winning head-to-head matches are the only way for these three to remain at the head of the pack.

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Tags: Cincinnati Reds MLB Pittsburgh Pirates St Louis Cardinals

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