The West Coast test

It’s finally here — the Reds head to the West Coast for a three-city trip through Arizona, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

When it comes to tests and obstacles that will challenge the Reds mettle as a contender, this is likely the big one, the head cheese, the big enchilada (Why does this sound like that William Shatner scene in Airplane 2?)

What makes this trip a big deal?

Recent history.

Over the last five seasons, the Reds have a 16-35 (.314) record on the West Coast. The road to Chavez Ravine — aka Dodger Stadium — has been a big boulevard of broken dreams. The Reds haven’t won a game there since I’ve covered the team. That translates to 0-12 (!!) at Los Angeles, with the last win coming on July 28, 2005 when LHP Brandon Claussen earned the victory.

On Aug. 24 2006, the Reds started a West Coast swing through SF, LA and SD. when the trip started, they were tied for first place. When the 2-8 trip was over, they were six games back.

I will never forget this scene from that trip: Ryan Franklin threw one pitch and gave up a walkoff homer to the Dodgers Ramon Martinez in the bottom of the 16th inning. After the game, I saw Ryan Freel sitting inside his locker looking almost catatonic. It was pretty much over from there.

Is there good news about this trip?

*Only three current Reds are left from that team — Aaron Harang, Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Phillips.

*This is a much more big-game tested club with players like Rolen, Rhodes and Cabrera that have been there before. This is also a team hasn’t lost more than five-straight all season and that was in April.

*The Reds swept the Diamondbacks at Chase Field last season and are 5-1 over the last two seasons, A similar outcome this week would be a good way to build momentum for Los Angeles.

*The Reds took two of three from the Giants at AT&T Park each of the last two seasons.

I don’t think the Reds need to have a winning trip to feel good when they come home for the stretch run. They just can’t be embarassed or have a disaster. And if they do lose, they need to hope the Cardinals do too. That’s a pretty low bar to set. If they can take a win at LA and two each at ARZ and SF, that would be a 5-4 trip. Not bad at all.

If they get through this one OK, the next big test is St. Louis over Labor Day weekend.

Let me hear from you…how do you like the Reds’ prospects for this Pacific trip?

(FYI — I’m skipping the Arizona portion. I will be in Los Angeles and San Francisco).


One other thing — I was remiss in not posting Aaron Harang’s rehab start line for Triple-A Louisville last night. Against Columbus, he allowed five runs and five hits over five innings with two walks and five strikeouts. Something tells me he’ll get another start with the Bats.

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What I like about this team is that they truly take one game at a time, one series at a time–and that’s about it. They haven’t let one game or one series determine their whole season.

If they lose every series on this swing, then that might be significant. But I still wouldn’t think it would kill their season. Whatever happens on this trip, if they just stay away from any major injuries, then they will be in it until the end.

I certainly like our chances in Arizona better than in California, but it’s encouraging to read that we’ve had success in San Francisco the last two years. If they can make it back east having won at least 4 games.

Either way, St. Louis has a pretty easy schedule coming up, so I’d think they’re likely to pass us up in the standings for a little while.

I don’t know the future, but there seems to be one important difference between this year and past years: This is a good team.

Whether or not Arthur Rhodes is with the team next year, we need a Rhodes bobblehead. If the size of the giveaway was in proportion to the contribution to the team, they’d give away a touchdown-jesus-sized Arthur Rhodes statue to the first 40,000 fans.

Bernie over at the St. Louis PD said it best. The difference between this years wc trip for the reds and 2006 is that Kyle Lohse isn’t going with them. He lost two of those games on that trip.

You can have Kyle Loshe back. Seriously. Take him. PLEASE.

– Tiffany

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