The Cincinnati Reds are about to embark on a road trip that could either set them up for a heated battle to win the division, or could chew them up, spit them out, and step on them.
On this road trip the Reds are going to play three games against the second place Brewers followed by four games against the first place Cardinals. During the first round Cincy took two out of three from the Brewers at Miller Park and beat the Cardinals two out of three at Great American Ball Park.
Unfortunately, the Brewers offense has been clicking lately and is a lot more dangerous than it was a month ago, when the Reds made their first trip to Milwaukee.
The Cardinals have just beat up the Reds for the past ten years. Ten years ago, in 1999, when the Reds were vying for a playoff spot the Cardinals just willed themselves over the Reds many times. Ever since then Tony LaRussa's teams have flat out owned the Reds both at Busch Stadium and in Cincinnati.
If this season is going to be a winning one the Reds need to go into both of these cities and take no prisoners. If Aaron Harang and the Reds pitching staff can shut down the Brewers offense then they should have no trouble winning.
When they go into St. Louis they need to play mistake free baseball. The Reds will need to follow their leaders Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips and be fundamentally sound as well as rock some of that enthusiasm they have shown all season.
If the Reds end the road trip 2-5 then many fans will give up on the team and these young guys with fragile psyches could lose their confidence and fall apart.
If, however, the Reds come out of this road trip 5-2, then Reds' fans will need to latch themselves onto this bandwagon because they are for real and are here for the long haul.