Reds 6 up with just 21 left

The Cincinnati Reds haven’t played well lately, but the bottom line is that they are 6 games up on the St. Louis Cardinals for first place in the NL Central with just 21 games remaining in the regular season (for the Reds).

Cincinnati topped the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates 4-3 in 12 innings Friday night to snap a five-game losing streak. Coupled with the Cardinals’ 8-6 loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Reds continue to be in the driver’s seat for the divisional crown.

The Reds’ “magic number” is now down to 17 and they need to take advantage of this seven-game homestand which includes two more against the Pirates and four against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Pirates and D-Backs are the two-worst teams in the NL. Yes, even worse than the Nationals.

It’s a shame the Reds couldn’t get a win for Homer Bailey who gave up just one run in seven innings and struck out a career-high nine. (Shockingly Francisco Cordero blew a save. Sarcasm font off.) However, the only thing that matters is Ws for the team and tonight was a crucial one. The Reds were able to halt their slide and once again the Cardinals were not able to take care of business on their end.

So, is it safe to say the Reds will be playoff bound for the first time since 1995? Yes, I think so. Nothing is certain and I won’t feel great about it until they actually clinch the postseason birth, but I feel pretty damn good about the situation. It would take a monumental collapse at this point, and with the way the Cardinals are playing, I’m not sure they could go on a big-enough streak to pass the Reds even if Cincy did go into a tailspin.

But hopefully the Reds save the drama and continue to beat up on the teams they should beat. And there’s nothing to apologize for in that regard. In a 162-game season, the cream rises to the top and there are no flukes. One-hundred-and-sixty-two games is kind of a large sample size, ya know?