Magic number = 2
The Reds are in the playoffs — that much was made certain with a 5-3 win over the Cubs and a three-game series sweep.
That brought the magic number to two for clinching the NL Central. The Reds will know if its possible before even taking the field on Friday as the Cardinals open a three-game series with a Friday afternoon game against the Cubs. If St. Louis loses, the Reds just need to win Friday night over the Dodgers and it’s done.
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The Three Stars:
No. 3 star: Xavier Paul — 2-for-4, double, run scored. He is batting .409 (9-for-22) in his last 14 games.
No. 2 star: Henry Rodriguez — 1-for-4, two-run double in his first career start. Rodriguez’s two-run double through the gap in left-center field opened some day light for the Reds during a five-run top of the seventh.
No. 1 star: Johnny Cueto — 6 ip, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 2 K, 92 pitches/52 strikes. Was this Cueto’s best start of the year? Not even close. But it was important that performed well. He was 0-3 with an 8.22 ERA in his last three starts and this should quiet some of the nervousness anyone might have had. (Haven’t heard from inside the clubhouse though). Cueto worked out of danger a couple of times — bases loaded in the second and escaped after a leadoff triple in the fourth.
“When I got into that situation, I said I can’t allow this run to get in,” Cueto said. “I used my sinker in, trying to get groundballs. And that’s what happened.”
Cueto likely has lost his shot at the NL Cy Young but is still alive for 20 wins with two starts to go. He is 18-9 with a 2.84 ERA. He also crossed the 200 innings mark (203) and established a new career best with 159 strikeouts
“That’s the goal,” Cueto said of 20 wins. “I want to keep working like I’m working. There are two more games to go. I’m going to keep working as I’ve been doing it.”
News and notes:
*Cueto wasn’t told yet, he said, but he expects to start Game 1 of the NLDS — whoever it’s against.
*Also his first career start, Denis Phipps’ infield hit in the seventh started the big rally and was good for his first big league hit. Phipps also doubled in the eighth inning.
*Joey Votto hit a RBI single today as a pinch-hitter. He has four RBIs in the last two games after having none his first 11 after returning from the DL.