The Arizona Diamondbacks’ home opener on Friday night brings the 5-1 Cincinnati Reds to Chase Field, where they’ve won eight in a row against the home club. The visiting team’s hot start shouldn’t surprise many, though, after their decision to stand pat for the most part over the offseason.
Not wanting to upset the chemistry was important to the team that won the NL Central last year for the first time since 1996. Besides re-signing young cornerstones Johnny Cueto, Jay Bruce and NL MVP Joey Votto, the Reds kept together most of the team in another attempt to make a run at the division title.
The last time the Reds went 5-0 to begin a season was in 1990 when they swept the Oakland A’s in the World Series and claimed their most recent championship. This season’s team boasts the same offensive firepower as Pete Rose’s Big Red Machine team, having scored 45 runs through six games which ties only the Chicago White Sox for the league lead.
After being the NL’s top offensive team in 2010, they come into Arizona having played their first six games at home and batted .329, behind only the Phillies’ .353. Stepping up offensively for the Reds are Brandon Phillips and Votto, who lead the team with 11 and nine hits, respectively. Out of the four players to play in all six games, Phillips boasts the highest batting average with .440, slightly ahead of Votto’s .391.
The D-backs (2-3) will have the opportunity to serve the visitors their second loss in a row after the NL’s last winless team, the Houston Astros, finally did what the Brewers couldn’t in beating the Reds on Thursday.
Travis Wood (1-0), who will be starting Friday opposite Ian Kennedy, comes in with a team-leading 1.29 ERA among other starters. He had the strongest outing yet for the Reds when he allowed only one run in seven innings in the team’s victory against Milwaukee last Saturday.
Edison Volquez (1-0, 7.36 ERA) remains the Reds’ weakest spot at the moment as he continues to have with his command early in games. He started poorly Wednesday against the Astros, but managed to get the win after allowing four runs over five innings and striking out eight.
Volquez had a tough time on Opening Day, but was saved by a late comeback of four runs in the ninth inning. The same thing can’t be said about Thursday’s loss when the team wasn’t able to overcome the one run deficit they were facing.
Coming into Chase Field for the three-game series, how the Reds bounce back will determine if they can succeed in spoiling the D-backs’ home opener celebration.