Homer Bailey played catch in the sun-splashed outfield at Great American Ball Park Monday, his usual routine the day before a start. Nothing different at all, as far as the Texan let on.
‘‘You guys,’’ he said afterward, ‘‘it’s just another game.’’
Uh-uh. Not buying it. Everyone knows the Reds pitcher has a chance to exorcise a lot of bad postseason history — or add to it — with his next start.
Less than two weeks after he threw the 15th no-hitter in the history of baseball’s first professional franchise, the 26-year-old Bailey has a chance to add another career moment. He can complete a National League Division Series sweep of the Giants Tuesday night.
Leading in the series, 2-0, the Reds need one more victory to advance, with as many as three chances left at home. It'll be a breakthrough if they get it.
Cincinnati hasn’t won a home playoff game in 17 years, a span of futility etched into the franchise’s storied history. Everyone remembers the Big Red Machine winning back-to-back World Series in 1975-76. The 1990 Nasty Boys team swept Oakland to win another.
Since then? Little more than heartbreak. Got swept by Atlanta in the 1995 NL Championship Series under manager Davey Johnson. Lost a one-game playoff for the NL wild card to the Mets in 1999 at Riverfront Stadium. Got swept by the Phillies in the first round two years ago.
The Reds put themselves in position for a sweep by overcoming the loss of ace Johnny Cueto to a bad back in the first inning of the opener, then pulling out a 5-2 win. They won, 9-0, on Sunday night behind Bronson Arroyo’s seven crisp innings.
Righthander Ryan Vogelsong will try to extend the series for the Giants Tuesday. Manager Bruce Bochy said lefthander Barry Zito would start Game 4.
Kiss and tell
Ideally, Jim Leyland would have everybody hug it out and play ball. Just as Detroit’s Justin Verlander and Coco Crisp of Oakland did on the field for Monday’s workout a day ahead of Game 3 in the AL Division Series. The Tigers lead, 2-0, and are one win from advancing to a second straight AL Championship Series.
The Tigers manager insists reliever Al Alburquerque meant no ill will toward the Athletics when he fielded Yoenis Cespedes’s ninth-inning comebacker and quickly kissed the ball before throwing to first in Sunday night’s 5-4 victory. Yet the manager disagreed with the display.
‘‘It wasn’t a smart thing to do, but I can honestly tell you that there is no way that Al Alburquerque or any members of the Detroit Tigers would ever do anything intentionally to offend another team. It just would not happen,’’ Leyland said.
As Oakland returned home hoping to pull off another sweep like the one against Texas last week to capture the AL West crown, that controversial smooch was still talked about in both clubhouses.
Righthander Anibal Sanchez (4-6), a midseason acquisition from Miami, will try to pitch the Tigers to a sweep of Oakland. Lefthander Brett Anderson (4-2) gets the ball for the Athletics in his postseason debut.