Everything is amplified at the beginning of the season because the only numbers you have are a relatively small sample. Pitchers have only made one or two starts each. Hitters are batting below .200 and batting averages can jump (or drop) significantly after one good (or bad) day at the plate.

There’s been a lot of criticism about the pitching. The 35 runs allowed by Reds pitching this year (3.9 runs per game) is better than their 2010-2011 average of 4.3 runs per game.

As noted in Saturday’s Titanic Struggle Recap, Joel Luckhaupt tweeted that 23 runs is the fewest runs that the Reds have scored over the first 9 games of a season dating back to 1901.

It got me curious about how often this happens over any nine game period. I started (and stopped) by looking at the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Over the past two years, the Reds led the NL in runs scored in 2010 and were tied for second in runs last year.

It’s happened before. Even to those high scoring teams.

In mid-June 2010, the Reds had a nine game stretch where they scored exactly 23 runs, which included getting swept by the Seattle Mariners. In another nine game period one month later, the Reds scored only 24 runs. They were shutout four times in that July stretch. In each of those nine game stretches, the Reds won 3 games and lost 6.

In 2011, the fewest runs the Reds scored in any nine game period were 26 runs in late September. The Reds again had a 3-6 record during this stretch, including a sweep at the hands of the Brewers. The 2011 Reds also had an awful stretch in mid-May where they scored just 29 runs and allowed 57, going 1-8 against Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

The Reds have also held their opponents to 23 runs or less over a nine game stretch each of the last two years. Obviously, this isn’t the same opponent being held to a low score over a nine game series, but it is worth noting that the Reds pitching has been as effective as the offense has been anemic a number of times the past two seasons. The best nine game stretches for holding opposition runs in each of the past two seasons:

2010: May 8 – May 17, held opponents to 18 runs & went 9-1.
2011: June 7 – June 15, held opponents to 23 runs went 6-3.

Don’t blame the pitching. Blame the lack of offense and the small sample size. For every nine game period of 23 runs scored the past two seasons, the Reds had a nine game burst of 60 or more runs. They’ll soon be scoring in bursts again.