As we speak the Cincinnati Reds are riding their second five-game win streak this season. I do not want to be over enthusiastic since it is only May, but it is hard to curb the excitement.

Seriously, when was the last time you saw a Red team play halfway decent defense, get outstanding pitching performances and be more than just average at the plate…ALL AT THE SAME TIME?! Sadly that would be the last time they had a snippet of a playoff birth (a one game playoff to break a tie to see who would actually get into the playoffs back in 1999, the Mets cruised to victory).

I agree they need some serious help in raising that batting average, but you cannot say that they haven’t been opportunistic when runs have been needed and base runners are in need of being moved around.

That my friends is just one of the little things that keep teams winning and within arms reach of snatching victory out of the arms of defeat.

Those other “little things” show up in statistics. The Reds pitching staff (outside of Mike Leake and Aaron Harang’s resurgence) needs a lot of improvement, although the last month has been quite the rebirth for the hurlers (Homer Bailey did WHAT on Wednesday..WOW ).

Getting back to the point, the Reds relievers rank in the National League top five in saves (fourth ) and holds (third). Meaning they are either keeping the Reds in games and giving them a chance to win or they are keeping opposing teams from getting runs across the plate. This is a good thing.

The bullpen did get a ridiculous amount of work in the first month, but lately have only had to worry about their primary job. That tends to make things a little easier, for everyone outside of Cordero anyway.

The defense has been lacking in recent years, but has improved (albeit slightly) enough to give the Reds that added boost of confidence that all games can be winnable. Cincinnati’s fielding percentage is fourth in the NL despite a head scratching fifteen errors already. Pitchers tend to rest a bit easier knowing they don’t have to do everything to win games.

The offense (which has greatly improved in the last couple of weeks) could use a shot in the arm that will last the next four months. Though it is hard to complain with how the Reds are moving runners around and capitalizing on opportunities.

For instance, Cincinnati is near the bottom in average, slugging percentage, on base percentage and hits, but is among the top ten in runs, triples, homers and stolen bases. Swiping bases and taking extra bases are a big help for batters who get the fact that if you can go opposite field, or get some air under it, you can improve the chances of pushing those runners across the plate or get them into scoring position.

I can not tell you how frustrating Cincinnati’s lack of ability to sacrifice has been in recent times. There is a reason I am losing my hair. Not that this disease has been fully eradicated, but it puts my mind at ease to see it happen with frequency these days.

Continuing to improve in all facets and touch upon those little things is something Cincinnati needs to focus on long term. We know full well the Cardinals have been doing such things on a regular basis which is why they have been the class of the Central Division for so long.

The Reds now know the secret, but keeping it up will more of a challenge for a team that hasn’t been able maintain winning baseball for the past ten years.

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