Reds hope to continue playoff push on the road

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David Bell interview (Aug. 8, 2021)

Cincinnati opened seven-game road trip Monday

The Cincinnati Reds have been playing catch-up as well as they have been playing baseball in recent weeks.

They have the second-best record in baseball in the last 20 games (13-7) and the fourth-best record in the last 30 games (19-11). They have the second-longest active winning streak (five games) in baseball.

All that adds up to a five-game deficit in the National League Central Division and a 2½-game deficit in the race for the second wild card. They trail the Milwaukee Brewers (66-46) in the division race and the San Diego Padres (64-49) in the wild-card race.

Now comes the hard part. After a four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend at Great American Ball Park, the Reds started a seven-game road trip with a makeup game on the road against the Cleveland Indians (54-55) on Monday.

“We saw this coming,” manager David Bell said Sunday after a 3-2 victory. “From a travel standpoint, we’ve just got to be smart and take great care of ourselves. We’re going to be playing good teams. But that’s OK. That’s what we expect the rest of the way. We welcome that. We know what it takes. We’re focused to know what we need to do.”

The Reds (61-51) were a season-high 10 games over .500 before Monday’s game. It’s their best record at any point in a season since 2013, when they finished 90-72 and earned a wild card berth.

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After playing the Indians, the Reds play two three-game series on the road against the top two teams in the National League East: the Atlanta Braves (57-55) and the Philadelphia Phillies (59-53), who lead the Braves by two games.

With 50 games remaining, the Reds had a 12.8 percent chance of winning the division, according to FanGraphs.com, and a 24.1 percent chance of winning a wild card. They had a 36.9 percent chance of making the postseason in one way or the other. That’s a 15 percent improvement from a week ago.

What helps the Reds in the last third of the season is their schedule. They still play nine more games against the Pirates, and they are 9-1 against the Pirates this season.

The Padres do play seven games against the Arizona Diamondbacks (35-78), who have the worst record in baseball. The Padres are 8-4 against the Diamondbacks.

TUESDAY’S GAME

Reds at Braves, 7:20 p.m., Bally Sports Ohio, 700, 1410