Although the Cincinnati Reds ended the first half of the 2010 season with a four game skid, they are still sitting atop of the N.L. Central eight games above .500. They also lead their division rival, St. Louis, by one game.
2002 was the last time the Reds were in playoff contention at the half-way mark and Cincinnati fans everywhere are eager to see if their beloved team will actually make a post season appearance.
Although it feels pretty good to be sitting in the top spot, there is still a lot of baseball left to be played. The Reds will need to continue using their bats as their pitching staff is showing improvement each and every day.
With hard work and determination, it's very likely that this Red Legs team can bring post-season baseball back to the Queen City.
With that said, let's look at the second half schedule beginning with the rest of the month of July.
Colorado will be coming into the three game series 10-games above .500. They are also only two games behind NL West leading San Diego.
With both teams in fierce divisional battles, this series should be nothing short of hard nosed hard ball.
Statistically speaking, the Reds have the edge in batting, while the Rockies hold a slight advantage in their pitching rotation.
However, NL All-Star starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez in not scheduled to face Cincinnati during this series. Definitely a plus for the home team.
The Washington Nationals come to town on July 19th to start a four game series against the Reds at Great American Ballpark.
Washington is currently in last place in the NL East, 13.5 games behind the Atlanta Braves.
The story of the Nationals this year has of course been rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg. The Reds are most likely to face the young face of the franchise, and the crowd at the G.A.P. is sure to be near capacity.
Aside from Strasburg, the Nationals other story is Adam Dunn. Dunn has been on a tear, hitting five of his 22 homeruns in the last six games.
On the Road
Houston is currently 12.5 games behind Cincinnati in the NL Central.
The two teams have met twice already this season. The Reds swept the first three game series and took 2-of-3 from the second.
It's not a stretch to expect similar results this time around.
After finishing in Houston, we go north to Wisconsin to face the Brewers.
Surprisingly, Cincinnati has only played Milwaukee twice this season. Both games ended with a win for the Reds.
Although the Brewers' pitching numbers are below average, their hitting is near the top. They're third in homeruns with 110 on the year. Cincinnati's pitching staff will need to keep that in mind when keeping the game under control.
Because the two teams only faced each other once in the first half, they will meet for four series during the second half.
That makes this series very important.
The Cincinnati Reds will close out the month with a home series against the Atlanta Braves.
The Braves, in Bobby Cox's last season as manager, are leading the National League in wins with 52.
Powered by their pitching prowess, the Braves are looking to send their manager off to retirement with another World Series appearance.
The Reds on the other hand will need to take this series very seriously because it's very likely that the National League Championship goes through Atlanta.
The two teams met in May for a two game series. The Braves won both games by one run.
I'm sure the Reds will be looking for a little redemption, and hopefully, July will end with fireworks over the Ohio River.