The Cincinnati Reds have fought to sustain a winning streak for two weeks now ever since they left Philadelphia.
The Reds have won game one of the past four series now, but until getting a game two victory tonight vs. the Cubs, the Reds had failed to clinch any of those series. Indeed they have gone on to win just one of those three series with that victory coming against the Milwaukee Brewers. Tonight they sealed the series victory vs. the Cubs.
The first of those series was against the Atlanta Braves where they lost 2 of three after winning the first game of the series behind a strong pitching performance from Mike Leake. The Reds then lost back to back one run games and limped back to Cincinnati to begin a homestand.
The next series was against the Milwaukee Brewers. Again the Reds took game one, scoring seven runs in support of Travis Wood. Jay Bruce led the offensive attack with a three run homer. Game two saw the Reds send Chad Reineke to the mound, and the Reds fell 7-2. Behind the power of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, the Reds won the third game of the series to take a 2-1 series victory.
The Reds then began a series vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds won a close contest in game one by a score of 2-1. For the rest of the series, Reds pitching could not hold down the Dodger attack led by Matt Kemp.
Now the Reds are taking on the Chicago Cubs. Once again the Reds played well in game 1, and Mike Leake upped his record to 6-2 after 8 strong innings. He was just a third of an inning shy his career longest start.
Tonight the Reds broke through. Edinson Volquez returned from his hiatus in the minors to start for the Reds who are so desperately seeking a winning streak. They may have started one.
Volquez success will hinge on one thing. There are no ifs ands or buts about it. Volquez will only be as successful as his command and control. Tonight, Volquez was in enough control of his pitches to let his pure “stuff” works its own magic. He did not rush his delivery and stayed away from leaping at the plate in an attempt to merely blow a fastball past hitters.
For two nights in a row now, the Reds have gotten solid starting pitching from Leake and Volquez. Simply, when the Reds pitch well they win.
As Steve wrote about the other night, John Fay took an attempt at “fixing” the Reds issues, and he suggested entirely offensive changes. But the Reds are living well offensively. Their struggles stem almost entirely from the consistency of their pitching staff.
Edinson Volquez must be the effective starter that all major league scouts know he can be. Homer Bailey must be healthy. He must stay healthy, and Mike Leake and Travis Wood must be consistently effective as well.
Pitching wins. If the Reds want the playoffs, they need to get some consistent month from their best starting five. Unless their best five can stay together for an extended period of time, the Reds will win a lot of games.
You can follow Alex Apple on Twitter @AlexAppleDFW.