The Cincinnati Reds are running out of time in the shortest season in baseball history.

The calendar turned to September on Tuesday with the Reds (15-20) needing to deliver their best month in years just to have a chance to reach the expanded playoffs. The Reds likely will need to at least get to .500 by the end of the season. That would mean posting a 15-10 mark in September.

That’s a tall order for a franchise that hasn’t finished better than four games over .500 since it was 18-10 in June of 2014. That was one of six winning months from 2014 until now.

“We’ve got to win a lot of games,” reliever Lucas Sims said Tuesday. “We’ve got to make things work. Guys aren’t hanging their heads by any means. I think everyone understands the urgency and importance of winning baseball games.”

The Reds have not been competitive their last two games. They lost 10-1 to the Chicago Cubs on Sunday and trailed the St. Louis Cardinals 7-2 Monday until Eugenio Suarez hit a three-run home run in the ninth to make the score more respectable. Still, it was the fourth time the Reds lost to the Cardinals in five chances this season.

According to, the Reds had a 20.3 percent chance of making the playoffs as of Tuesday. Those were the third-worst odds in the league.

The last two playoff berths would have gone to a 15-15 team (the Philadelphia Phillies) and a 17-18 team (the Colorado Rockies) if the season ended Monday.

The Chicago Cubs (20-14) and Cardinals (13-13) were on track to earn the National League Central Division’s two playoff berths with the Milwaukee Brewers (16-18) and the Reds still in the mix.

Still, the 2½ games that separated the Cardinals and Reds looked large Monday, and the Reds are having a hard time explaining their struggles.

“We’re just kind of getting unlucky,” said pitcher Tyler Mahle, who will start Wednesday in the final game of the series against the Cardinals. “We’re hitting a lot of balls hard, and they’re going right to people in the shift. I see that happening a lot. From what I see, I think everyone’s doing as much as we can.”

NOTES: The two players the Reds acquired in trades Monday, reliever Archie Bradley and outfielder Brian Goodwin, were scheduled to arrive in Cincinnati on Tuesday. Manager David Bell hoped to be able to activate them both for the game. ... Outfielder Jesse Winker served a one-game suspension Tuesday, choosing not to appeal the punishment that was handed down Monday. ... Nick Senzel started working out at the alternate site at Prasco Park on Tuesday, Bell said. He has been on the injured list since Aug. 19. Bell said they hope to have him back on the big-league roster soon.

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