by Chris Ball

Remember a time not just a month past where it seemed as though a 3 run game was an offensive explosion for the Reds? The term “Rally Reds” seemed a relic of a time gone by. Quality pitching was the only thing keeping them in games, many of which they still found creative ways to lose. The sweep of the Dodgers brought some hope, but a frustrating series loss agains the Cardinals dampened that a bit.

Then, the Reds took 2 of 3 from the Chicago Cubs to gain some momentum back. Those two wins were by a combined total of just four runs, and included some late game heroics by Jacob Hurtubise and Elly De La Cruz cutting down the potential game tying run in the bottom of the ninth inning. Alexis Diaz picked up two saves along the way. But it was really the series against the Colorado Rockies that would come to vault the Reds back into striking distance of contention in the NL Central Division.

The numbers speak for themselves. In their 3 wins against the Rockies the Reds scored a total of 29 runs while allowing only 11. They had 42 hits, with several key players catching fire at just the right time. Jeimer Candelario had 5 hits including 2 home runs and in his last 30 games he’s hitting .282. Spencer Steer had 6 hits in the series and over his last 15 games is beginning to look like the Steer of earlier in the year, batting .315 while slugging at at .556 clip. Prior to the Rockies series, De La Cruz was struggling mightily. But in the Mile High City he went 5-13 and hit a monster 448 foot home run from the right side of the plate. Put simply, the Reds’ offense looked as polished and deadly as it has all year, with multiple players producing and contributions coming from everywhere.

But what shouldn’t be overlooked is that for as hard as it is to pitch at altitude, 2 of the 3 Reds starters turned in dominant performance when it mattered. Frankie Montas was nearly perfect in game 2 of the series, allowing just one hit in 7 strong innings while striking out 9. In game 1 Andrew Abbott looked as though he was going to struggle to make it through the early innings but buckled down once again to allow only 3 runs in 6 innings in the win. And when Graham Ashcraft struggled in game 3, the Reds offense stepped in to rally late to once again dominate Colorado and secure the sweep.

It may be foolishly optimistic to hope that the Reds can keep crushing the cover off of the ball with this kind of consistency. But the most important aspect of this Colorado series is that the team and fans see what this truly talented team can do when it is firing on all cylinders. With Noelvi Marte priming to return in a few weeks to further bolster the lineup, all the Reds need to get back into the thick of the NL Central race is to continue to improve and have at least some of their key guys keep up this hot streak. When those players cool down, the hope is that a different combination of hitters will be right there ready to step in and drive in the runs the Reds need to keep winning. We’re past the point that the entire offense can fall apart for long stretches of time. As the season progresses if the Reds want to contend they must continue to put up solid offensive numbers, and the Rockies series has shown exactly how high our ceiling can be.

The Reds have won 9 of their last 12. After the sweep they are in striking distance of second place in the division with a chance to get even closer as the Chicago Cubs come to Cincinnati for a 4 game series this weekend.

Now is the time for the Reds to make a run at getting back to .500, and from there, after what we saw in Denver, who knows what is possible?



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Christopher Ball is a longtime Loveland resident and an attorney. He graduated from Loveland High School in 2003 and was a member of the football team before going on to become a coach’s assistant at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. He has been following and rooting for the Reds and Bengals since the early 1990s and has been through the many ups and downs that fandom has wrought over the years.

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