Reds Lower Magic Number to Two With Sweep of Cubs
Reds Vie For #1 Seed in National League
by Robb Hoff
September 20, 2012
With another series sweep under their belts, the Cincinnati Reds lowered their Magic Number to clinch the N.L. Central Division to 2.
Perhaps even more important, the win was the fourth straight for the Reds and tightens the most important race in the National League, that of the first overall seed in the playoffs -- which would clinch home field advantage into the N.L. Championship Series.
The Reds have one more win than the Washington Nationals but also one more loss. The Reds would have to finish with a better record than the Nationals to claim the first seed since the Nationals hold the head-to-head series advantage.
The win Thursday afternoon over an abysmal Chicago Cubs team guaranteed at least a Wild Card berth for the Reds, but with 12 games left in the season for the Reds, the sights remain set on the division clincher, which is likely to happen during the upcoming home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Reds ace Johnny Cueto finally returned to the winning column after losing his last three starts. He shutout the Cubs for six innings, which earned him his 18th win of the season and put him over the 200 innings mark for the year. Cueto is still in line for two more starts this year and with wins in both of those starts, he would become the first 20-game winner for the Reds since Tom Browning in 1985.
The Reds beat the Cubs with essentially a lineup of reserves in Cueto's win. Shortstop Didi Gregorius got the start and continues to show the tools for becoming a solid fielding and hitting big-league shortstop. Veteran minor-leaguer Denis Phipps started and notched his first career Major League hit.
Meanwhile, the Reds await the return of their skipper Dusty Baker, who continues to recuperate from an irregular heartbeat but will hopefully return to the Reds dugout during the upcoming six-game homestand against the Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers.