Tony Santillan and the Reds looking to close the gap in the NL Central with a visit from the hapless Nats

Cincinnati Reds Tyler Stephenson and Tony Santillan celebrate.
Cincinnati Reds Tyler Stephenson and Tony Santillan celebrate. / Nick Cammett/GettyImages
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In a season filled with oddities, the brief two-game set in Boston brought its own peculiar anomaly. Somehow the Cincinnati Reds (17-32) managed a split against the Red Sox without driving in a run in their 2-1 victory on Tuesday night. It was Cincinnati's first victory at Fenway Park since Game 7 of the 1975 World Series.

Perhaps, it was the baseball gods, with a little help from some shaky Boston defense, finally showing some mercy on the Redlegs. After all, the memory of losing a game to the Pittsburgh Pirates without allowing a hit is still fresh on the minds of those in Reds Country.

What Tuesday night's victory did ensure was a winning May for the Redlegs, which seemed impossible after dropping 18 of 21 contests in April. Since their 3-22 start, the Reds are 14-10 and can see a little light finally at what's been a very dark tunnel.

Can the Reds crawl out of the NL Central basement?

It's conceivable the Reds could crawl out of the National League Central basement this weekend. They enter play today, trailing the fourth-place Cubs by just 3.5 games, and are only five games behind the Pirates for third. Even though it may be more of an indictment on the division itself, it's progress and we'll take it.

The reason for the optimism is, guess what Reds fans, Cincinnati no longer has the most losses in the senior circuit. That distinction now belongs to this weekend's visitors, the Washington Nationals (18-34), who reside in the NL East cellar trailing the New York Mets by a whopping 17 games.

Needless to say, the Nats have earned every one of those losses. Even though they have an above-average offense, slashing .254/.320/.368 as a team, their pitching staff has been horrendous, sporting a league-worst 1.501 WHIP as play began yesterday.

Entering Wednesday, Washington hurlers are also second from the bottom in the NL in both ERA (5.23) and walks (191). Additionally, their six saves from the bullpen are the fewest by a wide margin in the National League.

Despite all the doom and gloom, the Nats do have one of the best players in the game at their disposal. Never mind the .232 batting average, Juan Soto is still inflecting plenty of damage at the plate. He's reaching base at a .376 clip and has launched nine homers along with 11 doubles. Finally, he's walked 43 times already this season against just 34 punch outs.

Over the past decade, the Nationals have had their way with the Reds with a decisive 36-24 advantage. However, Cincinnati did take five of seven last year as they go for back-to-back season series victories against the Nats.