Ah … the dreaded West Coast Swing.
This is the part of the schedule that tests the patience of Cincinnati Reds fans far and wide. This is the assemblage of teams (the Giants and Dodgers especially as well as the Padres after 1970) that represents an era of days gone by.
For younger Reds fans, the Giants and Dodgers were “hated” enemies. Teams that struck fear in the hearts of players from Cincinnati. They represented New York City (and borough Brooklyn, for those darned trolley dodgers) many, many moons ago … and now they represent equally distrusted markets – San Francisco and Los Angeles, respectively.
Sure, towns turned cities named for St. Francis and the City of Angels, together, seem to show us “innocence” … and that the Reds (mistakenly associated with Communism in the not-so-distant past) were *really* the enemy. It is with this history that the Reds enter the State of California, poised to either make serious progress in the NL Central or come floundering back to Cincinnati with their collective tails between their legs.
Given that the Reds no longer play in the NL West, that the year is 2013, and the Cincinnati franchise plays in the NL Central (going on some 20 years now), it is easy to see that this series isn’t exactly what it used to be. However, for those of us with memories that at least touch the 1980s, this is actually somewhat exciting.
The SF Giants are having a rough 2013 after a remarkable 2012, capped by an improbable comeback against our very boys in red in last October’s NLDS. Are the Reds going to go back to San Fran and just *take it* this time around? My guess: not likely. After attending all three (of what should have been four) games at GABP just a short few weeks ago (and including Homer Bailey‘s fantastic no-hitter), the Reds are primed to do some serious damage against a set of struggling teams. The Giants are reeling a bit, at 45-52, some 7 games under .500 and 5 1/2 games back in a woeful NL West. The Reds, meanwhile, in taking 2 of 3 from the visiting Pirates over the weekend, are within shouting distance of the Pirates AND the Cardinals AND find themselves tied for third (with the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves) for the best records in the National League.
At the time of this concluding writing, your Cincinnati Reds have decided to cue the explosive offense (11 runs across 6 1/2 innings played versus a glaring GOOSE EGG (0) for the home team SF Giants). Bronson Arroyo has been masterful in his six (6) innings to the moment while Tim Lincecum was chased unceremoniously after yet another struggling effort (despite his no-hitter in his most recent start before the All-Star break).
What happens in the next couple days is quite interesting to say the least. Not only did the Reds recall Tony Cingrani to pitch the first game (the “Away” game portion of the confusing day-night doubleheader) but also will mark the first Reds appearance for pitcher Greg Reynolds. The Giants will counter in the first with Cincinnati native Eric Surkamp, himself recovering from arm injury and making his 2013 debut after missing all of 2012, and the nightcap will feature veteran Barry Zito (whom has had a mixed bag of “success” against the Reds over the years). The complication of Game 2 on Tuesday? The Reds will be the HOME team in the visiting park. Yep, this is *that* make-up game from the July 4th rain-out at GABP after the Reds had won the first three games. All told, this may not be such a bad thing for the boys in red … because AT&T Park is FAR more pitcher-friendly than GABP ever hoped to be. Uncle Walt was pretty, pretty smart in choosing this instead of Cincinnati in August.
I won’t go into the pitching match-ups for Wednesday because, to be honest, they might possibly change with Reynolds and Surkamp both possibly having shorter-than-typical outings tomorrow night. However, in all likelihood, here are the subsequent duels we should see for the next two days (after Arroyo-Lincecum tonight):
Tuesday – Game 1: Cingrani – Surkamp; Game 2: Zito – Reynolds
Fearless prediction: I can foresee a LEGITIMATE chance at a four-game Reds sweep; however, let’s play it safe and say 3 of 4 seems awfully probable.
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