The Cardinals defeated the Reds, 2-1, on Sunday Night Baseball. For the Reds, the result was all too familiar, as they simply can’t beat St. Louis.
So, about that hot start out of the gate by the Cincinnati Reds. How quickly 4-0 turns into 5-7 for a team that was expected to finish in fourth or fifth place in their division. It can’t help that the Reds can’t seem to solve the St. Louis Cardinals, going 1-5 against them early on this season. In those six early-season games, the Reds are being outscored by the Cards 4.6 runs per game to 2.5. It looks a lot closer than it actually has been, it seems.
This isn’t really new for the Reds, either. Since the beginning of the 2013 season, the Reds are 16-28 against the Cardinals, and have lost eleven of their last thirteen series with the Cards overall. That’s total domination by the Redbirds, and it doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.
Just for a snapshot of why the Reds struggle so mightily in Nelly’s hometown, here are a few Reds players stats against the Cards, compared with their career numbers.
Note that almost every single number, across the board, is down for these prominent Reds players when playing against the Cardinals. That’s really not good. If the Reds have any ambition of staying competitive in the NL Central, that is going to have to change.
It’s not as if the Reds are incapable of winning games, especially against a divisional opponent. If you subtract out the Cardinals, the Reds are an eye-popping 101-67 against the rest of the division since the start of the 2012 season. No doubt that the guys listed above, who have struggled with St. Louis, are a big part of that success against the rest of the division.
A big part in all of this has to be the Cardinals, themselves. They aren’t exactly a bunch of scrubs, having made it to the NLCS every season since 2011 and the World Series in 2013. It’s understandable why a team such as the Reds, who only have a lost Wild Card game to show for the last two seasons, might have struggled with the better team. The Cards have been ultra-dominant in divisional play the last several years.
Outside of the Pirates, who have also been to the playoffs the last two years, the Cards have completely dominated the rest of the division, to the tune of a 115-89 total record. Somewhat amazingly, their winning percentage against the division (.563) is almost identical to their overall winning percentage over the course of the same amount of time (.565). The Cardinals have figured out the blueprint for winning, and it involves taking care of business within the division.
While the Reds seem to have no problem with most of their divisional opponents, something seems to throw them off when they play the Cardinals. It could be match-up problems, as I imagine that left-handed batters like Votto and Bruce may struggle with the nasty curveball of Adam Wainwright, for example. It could simply be because the Cardinals are a good team, evidenced by their track record of making it to and winning in the playoffs. Or it could be a combination of a bunch of factors that simply leave the Reds looking up to the Cardinals, as if they’re a big brother constantly taking advantage of smaller sibling that just can’t seem to keep up.
Until the Reds solve the Cardinals, they’ll continue to sit on the outside, looking in.