A barrage of home runs, lights out pitching, and chart-topping defense has put the Reds in first place of the NL Central Division.
The Cincinnati Reds have run their winning streak to six games with the completion of a four-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves. The sweep saw them leap ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals and into first place by a half-game, as the Cards fell to the Phillies 10-9 during a seesaw battle late Thursday night.
The Reds have seen their record climb to 25-19 overall and are six games over .500 for the first time this season. With a new player taking a pie to the face each night, these Reds wins have been a concerted team effort. Let's look at some numbers:
The Redlegs have a great starting staff and now the talent seems to be showing. Reds starters are 5-0 during the current six-game streak with a 2.91 ERA and are striking out batters a a rate of 10.32 K/9. The starters have been off the charts and in all actuality, they are close to where many expected them to be all season.
The bats are finally beginning to come alive. The team blasted 10 home runs in the four-game sweep of Atlanta. Don't be fooled into believing that it was the usual suspects dropping bombs, because it wasn't. The whole team has gotten involved—two-homer nights from Brandon Phillips and Drew Stubbs, multiple homers from rookie shortstop Zack Cozart (.727 OPS), a walk-off home run by rookie third baseman Todd Frazier (.887 OPS) and a go-ahead grand slam by rookie catcher Devin Mesoraco have all been the storylines.
The rookies on this team are coming through and getting it done in a big way. But let's not forget to include catcher Ryan Hanigan, who has been his consistent self, throwing up a slash line of .322/.392/.402 while leading the way for the pitching staff's vast improvement. The veteran catcher is laying the groundwork behind the plate for this winning ball club.
The defense has been superb, from the normal Gold Glove suspects at first and second base to the phenomenal play of Zack Cozart, who is second in the league among shortstops with a .985 fielding percentage. Their outfield is also superb when Chris Heisey is in left, so it is no wonder the Reds rank second in the Majors in team fielding, only slightly behind the Braves.
I would venture to say that this team has produced more Web Gems on the season than any other club this season.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Cincy bullpen. The corps ranks fifth in all of baseball with a 2.66 ERA, carries an absurd .616 opponents' OPS allowed and leads all of baseball with a 10.77 K/9. The 'pen has practically been lights out all season and consistent from the start.
The Reds look to extend their winning streak with the Colorado Rockies coming into town on Friday night for a three-game weekend series. The Reds will throw out ace Johnny Cueto (4-1, 1.97 ERA) in game one, looking to continue the success that has seen him produce a 2.22 ERA over his past 33 starts dating back to last year.
The club is on fire with a 9-3 record since Joey Votto clubbed a walk-off grand slam during the final game of the previous home stand. Can the Reds continue their "sweeping" ways through the weekend? Chime in and let us know your thoughts.