A big series starts tonight in Chicago. It’s been a while since we’ve been this excited about a regular season series in April. We’ll look back on this post someday and most likely laugh at the fact that it meant anything at all to us. The thing is, for Reds fans; this is the playoffs. This is our shot at relevance in the league. A 3-game sweep here by the grace of God would allow us to lead off Baseball Tonight for once in the decade.
Here’s how we honestly see the series breaking down.
Tonight: Micah Owings (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. Rich Harden (0-1, 5.00 ERA, 9 IP, 18 K)
It could get ugly. After a couple of big late/close wins in Houston, we would not be surprised for the Reds to come out completely flat as they sometimes do. It could be a night in which they get four hits and one run and that is all. They get Jay Bruce back most likely, but what a rough way to return against Harden who has as good of stuff as there is in the big leagues when he is healthy.
Tomorrow: Johnny Cueto (0-1, 4.22 ERA) vs. Ted Lilly (2-0, 3.86 ERA)
You know what? This is a game that also looks like a loss. Which is why everyone in the world will lay their money down on the Cubbies and the Reds will win. Sure, Cubs are at home and throwing a lefty who has been solid (and everyone should take note that the Reds just don’t beat lefties). But the law of averages will be in the Reds favor on this night. Lilly will be off and the Reds will pull away with a couple junk runs late. They’ll even the series at 1-1 in this ballgame.
Thursday afternoon: Aaron Harang (1-2, 2.70 ERA) vs. Carlos Zambrano (1-0, 5.21 ERA)
The Reds should feel best about this matchup in these three games. Big Z has been the best against the Reds in his career in throwing 181.1 big league innings against them compiling a 3.03 ERA and a 14-9 record. But familiarity breeds content. We feel that Dusty Baker knows enough about Zambrano’s tendencies to help give his young team an idea of what they’ll see in this game. Aaron Harang looks like the Aaron Harang of 2006 and 2007 again. This is a statement game and is likely to be a series deciding game before the Reds return home to Great American Ballpark. It will be an afternoon game in Chicago. The atmosphere will be electric as it is in those afternoons on the south side. What more could a young team ask for? Don’t underestimate the value of this experience on these young guys. They’ll come out hungry and get after Zambrano more then someone would expect. Coco Cordero is due to blow a game sometime soon though isn’t he?
In the end, we see the Reds somehow losing 2 of 3. But you never know; that is why they play the games.