The Cincinnati Reds left Great American Ball Park on April 10 in first place, hoping a 5-1 start would turn doubters into believers. They then gave the doubters plenty of fuel with a 1-5 record on a road trip to Chicago and St. Louis.
Cincinnati occupied fourth place in the National League Central Division on Monday as it began a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies at Great American Ball Park. A four-game series against the Cubs follows.
“You know how baseball is,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “It’s a series of pockets of up and down. It’s hard to play a season where you play fairly standard typical baseball all the way through. We got off to a hot start at 5-1, and then we go 1-5 on the road.”
Pitching has been the problem. Reds pitchers posted a 2.67 ERA in the six games at home and a 7.35 ERA in the six road games.
The schedule takes some of the blame for those road numbers. The Chicago Cubs, who swept three games from the Reds at Wrigley Field, rank second in baseball in runs scored (71), just behind the Cardinals (85), who won two of three games against the Reds over the weekend.
The Rockies provide another test. They rank fourth with 68 runs scored.
“The thing that stood out when we had our early-season success is we kept the runs down,” Price said. “We won a couple games giving up two runs, one run. Then on the road, in order to win, we had to score nine.”
Neither the starters nor relievers have fared well. The starters have averaged just under five innings per start, which ranks 28th out of 30 teams. The relievers rank 28th in ERA (5.36) and have thrown the fourth-most innings (45 1/3).
With the team returning home, Price focused on the positive before Monday’s game.
“All in all, guys are playing hard,” he said. “Guys are excited. They’re excited by the fact that we’ve played competitive baseball and know once we get to where the pitching locks itself in a little bit more, we’re going to be able to compete on a daily basis. We feel like every game we have a chance to win. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
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