The Reds entered their series with the Cardinals on a four-game winning streak and off a three-game sweep of the woeful Cubs.
The Reds-Cardinals series going Monday through Wednesday is crucial for both teams, as it gives them both an opportunity to gap the other in the standings. The teams will only meet head-to-head one more time in a September series at St. Louis.
St. Louis won three of four games entering the series. The Cardinals got the better of the Reds in the first game, winning 7-3. Whichever team comes out ahead at the end of the series has a very real possibility of riding that momentum to a bigger lead in the Central.
On an individual note, Joey Votto’s pace as dipped if he hopes to be a contender for the Triple Crown. He is still second in average (.320) and third in home runs (28), but he is beginning to fall behind the leaders.
The San Francisco Giants ended August on a tear. They won 10 of 12 to end the month and begin August. They have improved their home record to 34-20 and are now just 1.5 games back of division-leading San Diego. The Giants are the current Wild Card leader as well.
San Diego has lost six of their last 10, but begin a series against Pittsburgh Tuesday. The Pirate series is a must-win for the Padres to regain their winning ways and maintain a comfortable buffer over the Giants.
Elsewhere in the division, Colorado’s Carlo Gomez has been red-hot and now sits atop the league’s batting race. The center fielder’s average is now at .327, seven points ahead of Votto. Gomez is now in the top-five in Triple Crown categories, boasting 25 home runs and 77 RBIs. The Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez is tops in the Majors with 17 wins.
Philadelphia is just 1.5 games back of Atlanta in the East. While the Braves continue to play good ball at Turner Field (39-15) their record on the road (25-33) is abysmal for a first place team.
Amid a five game winning streak, the Phillies took care of business within the division, sweeping Florida and taking two of three from the Mets. Phillies players are climbing the ladder as far as stats are concerned as well, with Placido Polanco sitting third in average (.319) and Ryan Howard position second in RBIs (81). Roy Halladay is anchoring the loaded starting rotation with 14 wins and a 2.34 ERA.
Down in Washington, Adam Dunn is making teams who missed out at the trade deadline drool, recently hitting his NL-leading 30th home run. Done also has 77 RBIs for the Nationals.
Philadelphia – Smells blood in the water
San Francisco – Red hot with a dependable closer in the bullpen
San Diego – Treading water right now, but no reason for fans to give up
St. Louis – Needs to prove they’re among the elite while facing Cincy
Cincinnati – Good chance to make a statement versus St. Louis