Clinching their first winning season in 10 years may have once seemed like a lofty goal. Having accomplished that, the Cincinnati Reds are now focused on winning their first NL Central title since 1995.
The Reds can get closer to the division crown Tuesday night by continuing their dominance of the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
Cincinnati (82-62) secured its first winning season since 2000 with a 7-2 win over Arizona (57-87) on Monday in the opener of this four-game series.
“I don’t know if it means a lot to this group of guys,” said starter Bronson Arroyo(notes), who got the win Monday and has been a member of the Reds since 2006. “We weren’t around for all the hard times. We’re a young team. For the organization and the city, it’s got to be satisfying.”
With each win, the Reds close in on another breakthrough - their first playoff appearance in 15 years. They lead the division by seven games over St. Louis with 20 to play, making their magic number 13.
“Winning the division is the next step,” manager Dusty Baker said. “The next step is the playoffs. We’ve got one step out of the way. There’s three or four more to go.”
Facing the Diamondbacks should get Cincinnati closer to the postseason. The Reds have won 17 of their last 20 meetings with Arizona.
They’ve also won 11 of their last 13 overall at Great American Ball Park, and have Jay Bruce(notes) back from a sore right side that forced him to miss 12 games. The right fielder returned to the lineup in a big way Monday, connecting for two homers and four RBIs to pick up where he left off. He had been 8 for 15 with five homers and eight RBIs in his last four games before getting hurt.
The rookie left-hander is 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA in two home games, compared to a 5-1 mark and 3.34 ERA in 11 road outings.
Wood’s last two starts both came away from Cincinnati, and he went 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. He defeated the Diamondbacks on Aug. 19 in Arizona, yielding one run in 6 1-3 innings of a 9-5 victory.
The 23-year-old right-hander was superb Wednesday, yielding one run and five hits in seven innings of a 3-1 win over San Francisco. He pitched out of a jam in the seventh, inducing a ground out with runners on first and third.
“We knew we were going to let him go through it,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said. “We feel he’s well-equipped for that. … He had a very good demeanor to do that and that’s the way he conducts his business out there.”
Hudson’s last three starts have resulted in Arizona wins, while he’s gone 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA.
His last loss came in his only start against the Reds on Aug. 17, when he surrendered three runs despite a career-high 10 strikeouts in seven innings of a 6-2 defeat.