No matter how hard they try and how close they come, the Cincinnati Reds of 2014 just can’t quite put it together enough to cross the threshold of a winning team. Neither Homer Bailey nor Tony Cingrani seem able to single-handedly make the difference that it takes to make a winning team. And not even the mind-blowing defensive wizardry of rookie center fielder Billy Hamilton is enough to save the day every time.
After a 12-inning, one-run loss blown by Bailey and pinned on Cingrani, Thursday afternoon deprived the Reds of their first winning record all season. The feeling among the Reds and their fans has to be one of wondering if that taste of a winning record will ever come in 2014.
The Reds had reached .500 heading into Thursday, marking just the third time all season the team had a .500 record (1-1, 11-11 and 35-35). The Reds appeared to be surging with a newly rediscovered offense that looked like the Reds’ hitters had finally hit their stride.
But after returning to the storyline of limited offense in 2014, the Reds will have to regroup for another run at a winning season. With the Toronto Blue Jays heading into Great American Ball Park for a weekend three-game series, winning two of three to secure a winning record may be a task too tall for the underachieving Reds to pull off.
Over the past two years, the Reds have had little difficulty in winning more games than they lost. The 2013 Reds last had a losing record (6-7) just 13 games into the season. The NL Central champion Reds of 2012 last had a losing record on May 2 of that year with an 11-12 record.
This year’s Reds seem more like the 2011 team that did finish the season with a losing record, but even that team was still a winning one late into the year (67-66 on August 28).
Even though the Reds have been on a roll as of late (8-4 over their last 12 games), the track the team has taken this year would suggest that it’s about time for another two steps back. The one factor the Reds have to their advantage this time around is that the team is practically in full health, and that may prove the difference in the short-term and for the long haul.