After defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 2-1 at PNC Park on Thursday, the Cincinnati Reds brought their record to an even 11-11 on the season. While the first 22 games of the season have been polarizing for Reds fans, returning to .500 is the first step for Bryan Price‘s team towards putting together a strong remainder of the season.
The Reds had yet to play .500 baseball since winning the second game of the season against the St. Louis Cardinals. However, since starting the season with a 3-8 record, the Reds have turned the tables by going 8-3 and winning seven of their last nine games.
While an even record might not sound too impressive on the surface, taking a look at the road in which the Reds were forced to travel to get to this point puts everything into perspective. Consider the players who have spent time on the disabled list so far this season for the Reds:
Losing six of their most valuable players while playing arguably the toughest part of their schedule could seem like an insurmountable task. As recent history has shown, the Reds seem to rise to the occasion in the regular season when facing adversity.
The Joey Votto injury in 2010 saw Ryan Ludwick explode offensively to carry the team. In the same year, Scott Rolen‘s injury thrust Todd Frazier into the starting lineup, and the rookie provided a much-needed boost. Likewise this season, the Reds have been led through an injury-played start by a host of players — notably their starting pitchers.
Where would this team be right now without Johnny Cueto, Tony Congrani, Alfredo Simon and Mike Leake? Most likely under .500 at the moment.
While it might not be flashy or headline-grabbing, Price has done a great job helping this team to keep afloat during troubling times. The issue for these Reds has never been succeeding throughout the regular season, but instead taking the next step in the playoffs.
Can Price and the Reds use this hot streak to lay the foundation for deep run into the 2014 playoffs? Time will tell.