Dusty Baker is gearing up for the coming week, even though the Brewers are on the front burner.
Seven of the Reds' next ten games are against their arch enemy, the St. Louis Cardinals. The Cardinal is a bird that lives in the hedges on the outside of the forest. The Reds hope to shake those bushes for a couple wins.
The Reds leave for St. Louis after they play the Brewers in a three-game series. They get their first day off after a stretch of 20 in a row, then play three games in Colorado. After a 4:10 (Cincinnati time) game in Denver, the Reds open with a Labor Day 1:10 game to open a four-game series against the Cards.
Baker is setting the Reds up for the Cardinals.
Xavier Paul is in the lineup today to stay sharp.
"All the pennant winners I've been on you win from your bench. They can either stop a losing streak or help maintain a winning streak. I remember the strike year in '81, Jay Johnstone helped win both games of a doubleheader the last few days before the strike. It allowed us (LA Dodgers) to be up by a half game over the Reds. Houston won the second half. The Reds had the best record in baseball and didn't go. We went on to win the World Series."
"He probably won't start in the Cardinals series but he will be in the equation," Baker said of Paul. "You have to play them sometimes to stay sharp. Those 0-for-1s are tough, real tough. Most of the time you're facing one of their better pitchers out of the bullpen."
On Saturday he gave Jay Bruce a rest. Ryan Ludwick played three days in a row and seems to have found his stroke but he is less than two weeks removed from the disabled list and is not in playing shape yet. Ludwick is not in Sunday's lineup.
"You're not supposed to look ahead but it is a reality," Baker said. "It's going to be a tough turnaround on Labor Day. We get in late and start early."
Baker would rather face the teams closest to him.
"You'd rather have it like that than depend on somebody else," Baker said.
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