The Cincinnati Reds will wrap up the first half of their season with an 11-day, 11-game road trip to California to take on the Giants, Dodgers and Padres. They entered the stretch of games with a 41-33 mark and holding a two-game lead over the Cardinals and Pirates for first-place inside the NL Central. However, the trip west has never been friendly for the Reds.
History has not been kind to the Reds, even back in the days when these teams were division foes in the NL West. Even during the time of the Big Red Machine. Since the Giants and Dodgers arrived in the late 1950’s and the Padres were born in 1969 California has been where good Reds’ teams go to die. Overall the Reds are 515-566 against those three teams in their home parks, equaling a dismal .476 winning percentage.
Hall of Fame beat writer Hal McCoy said it best during a recent post for FoxSportsOhio.com, “For the Reds, trips to the west coast have been like booking passage on the Hindenburg, even if they knew what awaited at the end of the trip.”
I remember very well the 2-9 road trip in 2006 that literally took the Reds out of the race. The team started the mid-August swing one-game back in the NL Central with a 66-61 mark. They won the opening game vs. the Giants to pull into a first-place tie with the Cardinals, but dropped nine of 10 games to drop to six games back and never recovered.
Last season the Reds only played three games at each stadium going an uncharacteristic 6-3 in these games, but were not able to parlay the success into meaningful movement in the standings.
During the team’s division-winning 2010 campaign they had two West Coast trips. They went 3-3 in a rare Interleague swing to Seattle and Oakland, which I attended four games of. In their more traditional trip west versus NL opponents they pulled off a 6-3 mark during visits to Arizona, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
How will this trip define the team’s 2012 season? It remains to be seen, but heading into the All-Star break on a good streak is always a successful playoff formula. If the Reds can accomplish that feat while also clearing one of the traditionally biggest hurdles it would be huge!