CINCINNATI — It is Mark Twain who is credited with saying, “There are lies, damn lies and statistics.”
There is, though, at least one glaring statistic, a harsh reality, as to why the Cincinnati Reds reside in the basement of the National League Central.
It is their record on the road and it is as ugly as a scrunched monkey face. They are 10-and-21 on the road. What makes it worse is they started the season 5-and-1 on the road, but are 5-and-20 since then.
WHAT IS SO PUZZLING about that is that the Reds are 19-and-15 in their cozy home quarters, Great American International Airport/Smallpark.
The baseball formula for success is to play well at home and try to play .500 on the road.
So get this one. If the Reds played just .500 ball on the road and if they had won just one of the three games they lost in Milwaukee they would be in first place.
MANAGER BRYAN PRICE, of course, is perplexed about his enigmatic team’s Jekyll and Hyde personality. If he knew the answer he would address it.
Asked if there is anything he can put his finger on and slam his first on, Price said, “No, I really don’t. I don’t know if it is the youth perspective and the younger guys pitching on road. I don’t think there is a huge deficit in our offensive output. We still tend to score runs on the road.”
He paused and scratched his chin as he sat in the dugout in 90-degree heat Friday afternoon before a game with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Reds are back home after going 0-and-6 on the road, three straight losses in Los Angeles and three straight losses in San Diego
“I don’t know,” he said. “It just seems funny that we would pitch as well as we did at home against the St. Louis Cardinals (four-game sweep) and then go on the road and give up the runs we did in two pretty good pitchers’ parks (Dodger Stadium, Petco Park).
“So, I don’t know,” he said for the third time, a man as perplexed about it as anybody. “If I had the answer, we would fix it. It is one of those things we have to be better at, staying competitive and win some games on the road. We do know that the road record is the difference over where we are in the standings right now and where would be, if even we could be a .450 team on the road.”
HOMER BAILEY WORKED A BULLPEN session in front of pitching coach Mack Jenkins and manager Bryan Price early Friday afternoon.
This came after his six-inning performance Wednesday for the Class A Dayton Dragons — no runs, one hit, one hit batsman, no walks, six strikeouts.
And what he did in front of the pitching coach and manager put heavy thumps in their hearts.
“He looked great,” said Price. “He commanded all of his pitches, his arm look in great shape after a six-inning, 75-pitch effort. He looked as good as ever.”
The next step? Maybe the final step before he returns to the Reds rotation. He will pitch Monday night for the Class AAA Louissville bats.
“It will be another step that includes better competition and an opportunity to throw more pitches to get stretched out. Then we’ll re-assess. If he needs more work, needs more time or we’ll see if he’s ready and if we think he’s ready. We’ll put all our thoughts together and try to make a good decision.”
WHEN THE REDS ACQUIRED Eugenio Suarez before the 2015 season in a deal with the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Alfredo Simon, Suarez was a shortstop.
And that’s where he was playing at Class AAA Louisville when shortstop Zack Cozart was injured in June. Suarez finished the 2015 season at shortstop.
And he played so well, especially with the bat, that the Reds wanted him in the lineup. But where? How about third base, even though he’d never played there. So they traded Todd Frazier and put Suarez at third base and said, “Learn it and learn it fast because it is on-the-job-training.”
At the start of 2016 Suarez was rough around the collar as he learned the fast footwork and realized the quick reactions he needed at third base, “Because he ball gets on your real fast at third,” he said “And your throws have to be quick.”
The strides he has made at third base are giant-like. Although the Reds lost six straight on their last road trip. Suarez’s glove work exemplary and on Wednesday in San Diego he made two plays that would have made Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Nolan Arenado proud.
COLORADO’S ARENADO IS acknowledged as the National League’s best defenive third baseman, so it was stunning to hear what Reds manager Bryan Price said.
“He has done a phenomenal job and I get to see him every day,” said Price. “I would say that from what I’ve seen in the National League that he and Nolan Arenado are the two top defensive players.
“I couldn’t be happier with the way he has defended and it is nothing short of miraculous that he has grown this much in just a little more than a year.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
When Homer Bailey pitched on rehab in Dayton Wednesday night, he playfully joked about my eyesight, as he is wont to do, all in good fun. When I ran into him Friday at Great American Ball Park he stopped me and lifted a pair of sun glasses off his. His left eye was swollen, a slight infection.
“Must be karma,” he said. “That’s what I get for making fun of Hal McCoy’s eyesight when I’m in Dayton.”