Don’t look now but the Reds have 40 wins already, more than half of 2009’s win total. A month ago many of us were crossing our fingers hoping that yearly mid season collapse would keep from showing its face (or for at least another month or two, if it is planning to return this year). And as July approaches: Surprise! Cincinnati has survived June, sort of.

With a week of June left, the Reds are a game under .500 for the month (10-11). If you had planned on having a not-so great month of baseball, going about .500 should be the worst you can do if you have playoff aspirations. I know the playoffs are a distance away, but I’m talking in the sense the playoffs are something everybody strives for, even if you haven’t been there in awhile.

Despite lackluster performances within the last week or two, you have to hand it to the pitching staff for keeping the Reds in games (Holy Crap! Did I just say that!?). The offense disappeared in the three game sweep by the Mariners, but Cincinnati was in each game from first pitch to last thanks to the starters. The offense, however, did return during the Oakland trip and the Reds did themselves a favor by reversing the sweep against the A’s.

Many times in past years, the Reds biggest downfall was the inability of the starters to last more than four or five innings; resulting in even more work for a bullpen not equipped to put in nearly five innings a night. Up to this point of the month (June 24th ) the Reds are 2-4 when the starters put in less than six innings, but are 6-0 when they get in at least seven innings. Those numbers bring nothing new to the table, that’s what should happen. But as a Reds fan, you don’t get to see numbers like that on a yearly basis. Its refreshing.

Starters acting like starters and relievers getting the work relievers should, that has been one of the keys to the Reds keeping their heads above water. When someone has a bad outing, the thing is to not overreact. Cincinnati has done just that.

For example:

RHP Nick Masset was brought in during the eighth inning Wednesday with no outs and runners at first and second. He was able to curb the rally. Secondly, he has retired the last 12 batters he’s faced.”I’ve felt pretty good all year,” Masset said. “I’ve had my ups and downs, but I’m feeling a lot more confident out there. I’m letting my pitches work for themselves. I feel like I’ve got my sinker back as it’s warmed up.”

Closer Francisco Cordero earned his 18th save Tuesday night after blowing the save Monday. Cordero allowed two hits Tuesday and had runners at first and third with one out in a 4-2 game. He got Oakland RF Ryan Sweeney to hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end it. “When you give it up,” Cordero said, “the best thing is to get out there the next night and get it done.”

RHP Bronson Arroyo walked none over eight innings after walking a career-high six in the last start prior to the Oakland series. He gave up two runs on five hits to earn the win versus the A’s. “I didn’t make any adjustments,” Arroyo said. “Some days you can make free throws, some days you can’t.”

“It’s a tough series to swallow,” starting pitcher Aaron Harang said after the Seattle debacle. “But we’ve got to look forward to going to down to Oakland and turning things around.” The Reds did just that.

Also, the Reds could use some another arm or two to help bolster the staff as the heat and pressure of July cranks up. As a result, according to the Reds’ team report, LHP Aroldis Chapman is getting a look as a reliever with Class AAA Louisville. Chapman pitched two innings out of the bullpen Wednesday, allowing one run on two hits.” With (Edinson ) Volquez coming on and (Homer) Bailey not that far away, his best opportunity with us might be in the bullpen. There’s still a possibility will use him as starter,” GM Walt Jocketty said.

This would be a great way to introduce Chapman in a way that would not be asking too much of him.

Cincinnati is 73 games in with a National League Central Division Championship and playoff berth well in their sights, that is if they can continue to play within themselves. Yes, things happen and things change but I’m having fun this year. I haven’t been able to say that in a long, long time.

I hope the Reds are having fun too.

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