Heading into the All-Star break, the Reds are currently in third place after a hard fought 6-5 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, June 17. The victory put the team within one game of the .500 mark; not exactly stellar at this point in the season, but the win just may be the turning point for the team.
It is no secret that high-quality pitching has kept the Reds from falling all the way out of the race and that trend should only continue to improve since starter Mat Latos is back in the rotation. Despite the Reds loss in Latos’ first appearance of the season — Latos proved he is ready to pitch, giving up only 2 hits in six innings of shutout ball.
The media does not seem to give the team as much credit as it deserves for its defensive game. Besides having the best defensive record in both leagues, individual players continue to make game-saving plays. In the Reds win over the Pirates, center fielder Billy Hamilton threw Andrew McCutchen out home plate and left fielder Chris Heisey caught and held on to the final out despite slamming into the wall to make the play.
In an age where databases are filled with every imaginable player stat, sometimes the quality of a player is reduced to their past performance. However, stats do not remove the game’s unique element of batter versus pitcher which occurs each time a player comes to bat — which can go counter to past performances. In the past seven days alone, five Reds players are hitting above .300: left fielder Ryan Ludwick, .533; Hamilton, .476; Brandon Phillips, .391; Joey Votto, .360 and Skip Schumaker, .333. During those same seven days, Reds third baseman Todd Frazier has hit three home runs and driven in 8. This performance is despite the fact that overall stats show some of the players batting well below .300.
Magic When it Clicks
With everyone healthy and in the lineup, the Reds bats are coming alive, the team had a season-high 19 hits in their Father’s Day win over the first-place Milwaukee Brewers. The Reds followed up that game with 13 hits against the Pirates in Tuesday’s win. These quality offensive performances coupled with the team’s defensive and pitching strengths could very well be the spark that drives them upward.
Where the Reds end up at the end of the season, of course, depends on a lot of factors — making it impossible to predict. But as Reds Manager Bryan Price recently said, as long as players exert their best effort on the field, he can’t complain.
And I think most fans would agree with that.