After the All-Star game break, the Cincinnati Reds played more like a team playing out a string just to finish the season rather than a team just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL Central.
The Reds lost their first seven games out of the break, and then the front office decided not to make any trade deadline moves to improve a miserable offense. Now, the Reds are making a push to get back in the thick of things in the NL Central by winning five of their last seven games behind the strength of an unexpected eruption on offense from the likes of Ramon Santiago, Kristopher Negron and Zack Cozart.
The low-scoring Reds have notched seven, eight and nine runs in three of their last four games — all wins. The scoring parade has been fueled from the bottom-of-the-order trio, who have all hit homers and collectively driven in 12 runs during those three games.
While Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto remain sidelined, the Reds have to get production throughout the lineup, including the bottom of the order. Cozart went 5-for-12 in the three wins with five RBIs. Negron also had five hits in 12 st-bats with four RBIs and five runs scored. Santiago’s lone hit was a three-run homer.
While the Reds can’t expect the bottom of the order to carry the team to wins on a nightly basis, their surge has helped the Reds recover enough for now to claw back within four games of first place in the NL Central and renewed hope that the team can remain in the mix for a division title or Wild Card berth.