The Cincinnati Reds just dealt a big blow to one division rival’s playoff hopes. They could do it twice in one week.
Dominating opponents away from home lately, the Reds take an eight-game road winning streak into their three-game set with a Milwaukee Brewers team looking to bounce back from their worst series in two months.
It’s probably too late for Cincinnati to make a playoff push, due to its 35-53 record at the All-Star break. The Reds, though, have played like postseason contenders in the second half with a 17-9 mark.
“We didn’t play well in the first half, obviously. We’ve turned it around in the second half,” said Cincinnati’s Adam Dunn, who has 10 homers and 29 RBIs while batting .322 since the break. He hit .239 in the first half.
Cincinnati hurt the playoff chances of the Chicago Cubs by sweeping a three-game set from their NL Central rivals this week.
Ken Griffey Jr. went 6-for-15 with two homers, two doubles and six RBIs in the sweep as the Reds ran their road win streak to eight games. In the last seven, they’ve outscored opponents by at least five runs in each victory.
This is Cincinnati’s longest win streak away from home since a nine-game run in April 2001.
Milwaukee is also coming off a sweep, but was on the losing end as it was outscored 16-6 in dropping three straight to division-leading St. Louis. It was the first time the Brewers were swept since losing three in a row at Philadelphia from June 10-12, and the first time at home since mid-April.
“We came up short against them three days in a row,” Milwaukee center fielder Brady Clark said. “Yeah, that’s frustrating. We just have to fight through it.”
Those three losses increased the Brewers’ deficit in their chase of Houston for the NL wild card, and they can hardly afford to suffer another sweep.
Milwaukee could be without Clark as it tries to win the opener. Leading the team with a .311 batting average, Clark bruised his right rib cage trying to break up a double play in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss.
Clark is listed as day to day, just like one of Cincinnati’s top hitters.
Ryan Freel, second on the Reds with a .289 average, homered and drove in three runs before leaving Wednesday’s 8-2 win over the Cubs with a strained right quadriceps.