There have been no easy games for the Reds this season, especially against the Cardinals.
All three of the games between the two teams in the season's first series at Cincinnati were decided by one run. The Reds lost to St. Louis by two runs on Monday and lost by a 7-5 score on Tuesday.
"It would be nice to go out there and jump on somebody and knock a starter out a little early," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That would be something that would be really nice, to get into a bullpen and not always see everybody's primary, late-game matchup guys. It would be nice to see some long men."
After six meetings in their first nine games of 2014, Wednesday's series finale with Mike Leake pitching for the Reds against the Cardinals' Shelby Miller will be the last time the two teams see each other for a while. They shall meet again from May 23-25 in Cincinnati.
The Cardinals are in a stretch of starting the year with 15 games against NL Central opponents. The Reds play division rivals in 19 of their first 28 games.
"I don't think there's anything wrong at getting a look at what we're going to be fighting," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "We knew going in that every one of these teams was going to be good, and they're going to be gunning for us. That's kind of what we anticipated and we've seen exactly from Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, both that they're the same kind of teams we've seen in the past. Strong teams, and any night that we're off our game at all, we know things can go bad in a hurry. But we believe that if we're on our game, we've got a great chance.
"The Central is going to be exactly what it's been. It's going to go down to the end and be a tough fight. Our guys are all prepared for that. You enjoy playing those teams that you know are good and the fans get into. I think people are starting to see what the National League Central is all about."
Reds: Broxton to close
• The Reds activated Jonathan Broxton from the disabled list on Tuesday, thus ending the brief tenure of closer-by-committee. Broxton will take the bulk of the save situations for Cincinnati until Aroldis Chapman is ready.
However, Price will be looking to ease Broxton into the role -- if he can.
"I'd love to be able to get him into a game where he can just start an inning and get his feet wet," Price said. "If I could, I'd like to get him into a game that wasn't the ninth inning for his first game. He definitely will be our closer once we get him re-acclimated to being here. That might be maybe one outing."
Cardinals: Relief for the bullpen
• After using both Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal in each of the first two games of the series, the Cardinals may need to turn elsewhere for late-inning help on Wednesday.
Rosenthal did not pitch on consecutive days during Spring Training or during the first week of the season, and he's now thrown a combined 40 pitches over two days against the Reds. That workload could be enough for Matheny to shut him down for the series finale.
"It's something that we're keeping our eye on," Matheny said. "Just like some of the guys tell us they feel good, we see that they've thrown too many days ... we'll shut them down. Sometimes we feel like we do need to save them from themselves."
The same may be the case for Martinez, who was called on to retire five batters on Monday and another three on Tuesday. His appearances weren't all that stressful, but the Cardinals have said they'll be cautious in how much they use Martinez, who was conditioned as a starter during Spring Training.
"He's doing a nice job and we like how he comes out ready, no matter who he's facing, no matter what part of the order," Matheny said. "And his stuff looked exceptionally good [on Tuesday]. Hopefully, we can not use him every single night and get some of these other guys work."
• Matheny continues to seek spot start opportunities for Jon Jay, and Wednesday could present a good opportunity for Jay to get back into the lineup. He hasn't started yet this series but is 6-for-18 in his career against Leake. Jay contributed RBI hits in each of his two starts made so far this season.
• Cardinals reliever Jason Motte threw 19 pitches in a simulated game on Tuesday as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery. St. Louis expects Motte to be back in May, likely before these two clubs next meet in Cincinnati.
• By dropping the first two games of the three-game series, the Reds are now 3-26-2 in their series at St. Louis since 2003.