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MLB playoffs 2010: The Reds' last stand

The front-page headline of today's Cincinnati Enquirer reads, "It Ain't Over Yet," which is surely meant as a battle cry of resilience for the hometown team (It Ain't Over!), but, considering the Reds' opponent, reads more like a tacit admission of impending doom (Yet).

Only five teams have come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a divisional series, the last the 2003 Boston Red Sox against the Oakland A's. These Philadelphia Phillies, with Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt in the chamber, would not seem to be a likely candidate to let it happen again.

No one is feeling too optimistic about it. In a poll on the Enquirer web site, about 60 percent of readers expect the Reds' season to end tonight, and less than 10 percent think they'll win the series. Again, that's the Cincinnati newspaper.

I'd like to list a number of counter-intuitive reasons why the Reds can comeback. But, man, it is hard to envision these Phillies losing three straight. Even some of the positives for the Reds quickly turn into more checkmark on the Phillies' side. Cole Hamels is starting Game 3 tonight, and the Reds this season went 33-22 against left-handed starters, fourth-best in the majors ... but Hamels is 6-0 with a 1.07 ERA in seven starts against the Reds. The Reds held this relentless Phillies lineup to one run in consecutive games this year ... but the Reds scored zero each game and lost both.

The Reds do have a few things going for them. Reds Game 3 starter Johnny Cueto has been very good this year in two starts against the Phillies, allowing two earned runs in 15 innings. They can draw inspiration from those 2003 Red Sox, who had to beat Tim Hudson, Ted Lilly and Barry Zito, who that season combined for a 3.36 ERA in 650 innings.

Toppling three straight solid starting pitchers has happened before, but then again, the Phillies have perhaps the best trio in recent memory. The most hopeful thing for the Reds to cling to is that playoff baseball is a dice roll, even when the dice seem like they're weighted.

"It can happen," Phillies Manager Charlie Manuel said. "It ain't going to happen, but it can happen."

By Adam Kilgore  | October 10, 2010; 11:33 AM ET
Categories:  Phillies, Playoffs, Reds  
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