The first professional baseball team in existence became the first MLB team of 2012 to secure a playoff berth as the Cincinnati Reds defeated the Chicago Cubs 5-3 on Thursday in Chicago. The Reds’ win guaranteed at least a Wild Card spot in the playoffs.
Fox Sports notes that ace Johnny Cueto earned the Reds’ win, reducing the Reds’ magic number to two. That means any combination of two Reds wins or two St. Louis Cardinals losses will grant the Reds a National League Central Division championship.
Reuters notes that the Washington Nationals, with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday, also ensured themselves a playoff berth with at least the Wild Card.
With the win over the Cubs, the Reds secured their second playoff appearance in the last three seasons. This despite losing part of their bullpen to injuries back in spring training and losing 2010 league MVP from 2010 Joey Votto to injury for two months.
The playoff-clinching Reds’ win also came with manager Dusty Baker away from the team and dealing with medical issues. Baker was taken to a Chicago hospital after dealing with some chest pain and was being kept for observation but should rejoin the team soon.
The Reds have had another productive season from longtime second baseman Brandon Phillips, who leads the team in batting average .287. Streaky outfielder Jay Bruce leads the team with 33 home runs and Cueto leads in ERA at 2.84.
Cincinnati will start Bronson Arroyo (12-8) at home against the Dodgers’ Joe Blanton (9-13) on Friday night looking for another Reds’ win. Homer Bailey’s spot is up next in the rotation for Cincinnati for Saturday’s game beginning at 4 p.m.