Reds' sweep of Astros suddenly gives them path to NL Central contention

The Cincinnati Reds have swept the Houston Astros, and they pulled it off in come-from-behind fashion in the ninth inning. This is the first time all year the juggernaut Astros have been swept and it was by a team that entered the series 31-38. 

First up, let's take a look at game-tying knock from Nick Senzel and the walk-off job from from Jesse Winker

What a huge win. The Reds have now won four in a row for the second time all season. 

They are still four games under .500, but thanks to this streak and some other circumstances, they have a real shot to get into contention here very soon. 

Now, onto the circumstances I mentioned above: 

  • The Cubs -- who were in first place on May 22 -- have lost 15 of their last 26 games in the aforementioned time span. 
  • The Brewers haven't exactly been lighting the world on fire, either. They just went 2-6 on a road trip after dropping Wednesday's matinee in San Diego. In fact, they're only a .500 (33-33) team since starting 7-1. One of those samples is a lot bigger than the other. 
  • The Cardinals were 20-10 at one point, but they were 9-18 in May and sit in third place. (Full standings here)

Add it up and, despite the Reds starting the season 1-8 and still being in fourth place, they are just 5 1/2 games out. Now, that isn't great. It's also not terrible here on June 19, given what's coming up. 

Ah yes, the Reds have some chances to do more than make up a few games this week. They could make some serious noise if they play well. 

Starting Thursday, the Reds have a four-game series against the Brewers. It's in Milwaukee, so it's a tall order, but head-to-head games are always a big opportunity. But man, that's a four-game series with the Reds' five games behind the defending division champion, who is currently in playoff position. That's opportunity right there. 

Then, after two road games against the Angels, the Reds return to Cincinnati for a nine-game homestand that starts with three against the Cubs and is followed by four against the Brewers. Both have been sub-par road teams and surely Reds fans would like me to mention the Reds have already won both of their series against Chicago's North Siders. 

To be clear, a big move in the standings would require the Reds to beat teams that have been better than them to this point, but they just swept the Astros (who are better than both the Brewers and Cubs). 

Further, All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett is ready to begin a minor-league rehab assignment. 

Things have to continue to break right, but with this big sweep against an exceptional team while the so-called big guns in their division twiddle their thumbs, there's a real chance the Reds could make a move in the next few weeks. Yes, the flip-side is they could be buried, but they've got a chance in front of them. 

If nothing else, it's something for us to watch in the next few weeks and gives Cincinnati fans the modicum of hope they haven't had since 2013. It's fitting here that my favorite quote to bandy about on these pages -- "hope is a good thing" -- is said, eventually, by a character nicknamed "Red." 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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