On June 29, the Cincinnati Reds and their fans were riding high following a season-high five-game winning streak that included a four-game sweep of one of baseball’s top teams. But right when fans were thinking the Reds had finally turned the corner in 2014, they were dealt a rather disrupting blow. Traveling to face the San Diego Padres, the Reds were swept by a team that was 12 games under .500.
Talk about quickly humbling a team and a fanbase.
Against one of the worst pitching teams in the league, the Reds managed only two runs in the three game set as they were outscored 12-2. Not to mention, they gave up 12 runs to a team that batted .171 in the entire month of June — an average so low that it set the record for the live-ball era in monthly team batting. So for the Reds, being swept by the Padres in the way they were is quite disappointing.
The sweep also casts concerns on the 2014 future of the team. While expectations were growing during their winning streak, the current losing streak is doing quite the opposite for such expectations. Mostly due to inconsistency, fans and “experts” are unwilling to commit to a team that seemingly struggles to maintain an acceptable level of success.
For the Reds, it also makes the climb back into playoff contention much larger. During their three-game losing streak, the Milwaukee Brewers were also losing. So instead of sitting four games out of first place, the Reds are stuck at seven games back. As teams have seen this year, catching the Brewers in a down stretch has been near impossible. So, for a team trying to catch up, it is imperative to capitalize on such rare occasions.
The main question for the Reds and fans now becomes, what exactly is this team? Quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has a true answer for that. They have shown signs of being incredibly good and signs of being excruciatingly bad. But in order for the Reds to have any chance of reaching the playoffs, they must answer that question — or Walt Jocketty must answer it for them.