The Cincinnati Reds have lost six of their last eight games against the Cardinals. They have lost their last six series against them.
In St. Louis, the Reds have won just three of their last 29 series against the Cardinals. During the next 10 days, the third-place Reds play them seven times.
So, sure, the Reds have the Redbirds on their minds these days. They are tired of losing to them.
“You had an idea that to get to the road to the championship, you had to go through St. Louis,” Reds manager Dusty Baker told reporters in Cincinnati. “It didn't start this year. The only thing is, now we have a third member on the road to a championship, which is Pittsburgh. That doesn't change anything. We've still got to beat (the Cardinals).
“We haven't beat them very much of late, but things could change. You see some teams beating them now that you wouldn't think would beat them.”
The Reds sit 2½ games back of the Cardinals and Pirates, who remain tied for the National League Central lead.
“It's a big series. There's no doubt about it," Reds shortstop Zack Cozart told MLB.com. “We've got to play better. Hopefully, we go into St. Louis and turn it around and play well and take a series, at least . . . I'm not going to say we need to prove anything to them. We know we're a good team. We've been winning all year on pitching and defense and getting timely hits.”
The Reds lost two of three games to Milwaukee over the weekend, missing an opportunity to make the division race even tighter.
“I think, when we lose at this point to any team, we feel it's a missed opportunity, because we feel like we're one of the best teams in the league,” Reds right fielder Jay Bruce told MLB.com. “Bottom line, it comes down to having to play better.”
Added Cozart: “We were playing well coming into this. We beat a good Diamondbacks team three out of four. I thought we were starting to turn the corner. It's two out of three. The Brewers aren't having a great year, but are still a tough team to play. We still control our own destiny. We play the Cardinals a lot. We play Pittsburgh at the end of the year. We've just got to right the ship.”
MYSTERIES OF THE UNIVERSE
Questions to ponder while wondering if Tyler Lyons can make the most of his huge opportunity:
When will public figures remember that nothing good happens after midnight?
Will the Angels management team ever get on the same page?
Why don't the Marlins invite former professional wrestlers to all their games to liven things up?
QUIPS ‘R US
Here is what some of America’s leading sports pundits have been writing:
Scott Ostler, San Francisco Chronicle: “When a caught-red-handed athlete holds a news conference -- Tiger Woods, Alex Rodriguez -- the public and media invariably wind up critiquing the drapes, the guest list, the miscreant's eyebrow twitches. The theater eclipses the apology. The spectacle becomes the bastard offspring of TMZ and Dr. Phil. The televised mea culpas waste valuable TV time better devoted to watching Little Leaguers cry. The cheater schlub, desperately tap-dancing around full disclosure, always winds up telling more lies.”
Bill Simmons, ESPN.com: “For Yankees fans, well before this latest PED scandal, A-Rod had become one of those annoying in-laws who never fit in with their family, but they had to put up with him because, technically, he WAS family. So they pretended to be happy to see him, made small talk with him during the holidays … and the whole time, deep down, they were rooting for him to divorce their sister so they'd never have to see him again. He'd have to single-handedly drag them to the 2013 World Series for that to change. In the words of James Baby Doll Dixon, I wish you a lot of luck, A-Rod. So barring a 2013 World Series miracle, how does A-Rod avoid being a historical nomad? I think he has only one career move left, whether he's suspended for 2014 or not: That's right . . . Japan! I could see him going there next season with two goals: make as much money as possible, and make a run at Sadaharu Oh's all-time professional baseball home run record (868). You realize he's fewer than 220 away from Oh, right? You can do this, A-Rod! Here, we'll all chip in for your plane ticket.”
Doug Farrar, SI.com: “There have been some epically horrible quarterback battles throughout NFL history, but it’s tough to think of one worse than the one going on with the New York Jets. Rex Ryan has been vacillating between Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith throughout the preseason, weighing whether he can get anything out of Sanchez in his fifth season, or if it’s time to punt on that experiment and let Smith, 2013′s second-round pick, learn on the job. After three games, all Ryan knows about his situation is that he has no quarterback ready to start an NFL game in a competent fashion. Smith, whose progression has been limited by injury, threw three howling picks in the first half of Saturday’s 24-21 overtime win over the New York Giants, and capped off his first NFL start by running out of the end zone in the fourth quarter as he was being chased by Giants linebacker Mark Herzlich. This play, of course, brought to mind what former Detroit Lions quarterback Dan Orlovsky did in his first NFL start in October of 2008. In what may have been the most face-palming moment of the 0-16 Lions’ season, Orlovsky forgot where he was and bailed out of his own end zone.”
Mike Tanier, Sports on Earth: “The third week of the preseason is often called a dress rehearsal, so it stands to reason that players and teams try extra hard to look like themselves. Many NFL players and coaches were in midseason form, in the worst possible way. Kevin Kolb waited just three plays and 33 seconds to roll right for no discernible reason and suffer his first sack against the Redskins. Rolling right for Kolb is like leaping into a pool for Esther Williams in a Busby Berkeley musical: he is just looking for an excuse. Doug Marrone got around this by having Kolb run some read option-like plays: hand off to C.J. Spiller, then roll right without the ball! Problem solved … until Spiller suffered a minor injury. Then, poor Kolb suffered a concussion, the sad result of his inability to go 33 seconds without a sack.”
Pat Kirwan, CBSSports.com: “Oakland, here are your QB options. Don't reopen the quarterback competition unless you can put anther QB in the competition. The Raiders have some salary cap space ($6-7 million) depending upon the day. If the Raiders ask the question which team has a backup QB better than our starter or the guys competing for the QB job, they will have lots of players to choose from. Terrell Pryor gave the team a slight spark because no one else could, but it doesn't mean he's the right guy for the job. Everyone is for sale if the price is right and I would think Rex Grossman, Ryan Mallett, Kirk Cousins, Mark Sanchez and even Matt Barkley would be an upgrade. Oakland needs to find someone soon or this could be a 2-14 season.”
“I’m a bad guy sometimes. I did a lot of bad things, and I want to be forgiven. So in order for me to be forgiven, I hope they can forgive me. I wanna change my life, I wanna live a different life now. I wanna live my sober life. I don’t wanna die. I’m on the verge of dying, because I’m a vicious alcoholic. I haven’t drank or took drugs in six days, and for me that’s a miracle. I’ve been lying to everybody else that think I was sober, but I’m not. This is my sixth day. I’m never gonna use again.”
Former boxer Mike Tyson, at a news conference in central New York, noting that his is still an accident waiting to happen.