Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 7/9/12
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The Cincinnati Reds were pleased overall with their first half. They dropped out of first place in the National League Central last week, but at 47-38, they are within a game of the Pittsburgh Pirates and are in position to claim a wild-card playoff berth.

"You always want more," manager Dusty Baker said. "We hoped our young guys would mature and improve, and they have. There aren't many teams that at vying for first place that on any given day start three rookies -- and in two very, very important positions, shortstop and catcher.

"There's always something to be dissatisfied about. I'm proud the way our guys have fought and clawed. I wish we played a little smarter at times, but we will."

The pitching has been better than expected. The Reds rank fourth in the majors in ERA at 3.39. The bullpen ranks third in the majors with a 2.77 ERA. The Reds had a streak of 10 consecutive quality starts end Sunday, their longest run since 1994.

The offense, however, hasn't been so good. The biggest problem has been hitting with runners in scoring position (RISP). The Reds are batting .236 with RISP and .194 with RISP and two outs. The team has those woeful numbers despite the fact that Joey Votto is hitting .371 (23-for-62) with RISP.

The goal for the second half is to improve on that number and do better as far as situational hitting.

The Reds are likely to be buyers at the trade deadline, but it's unlikely they'll made a big deal. The team is short of prospects who are close to the majors as a result of trading six prospects total for starting pitcher Mat Latos and reliever Sean Marshall in the offseason.

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