CINCINNATI — Homer Bailey played catch in the sun-splashed outfield at Great American Ball Park, 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."
Not likely. Reds fans know the 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 pitched the 15th no-hitter in the history of baseball's first professional franchise, Bailey, 26, has a chance to add another career moment. He can complete a National League Division Series sweep of the Giants tonight.
Up 2-0, the Reds need one victory to advance, with as many as three chances left at home. It'll be a breakthrough if they get it.
Despite a storied history, Cincinnati hasn't won a home playoff game in 17 years. The Big Red Machine won back-to-back World Series in 1975-76. The 1990 Nasty Boys team swept Oakland to win another.
Since then, there has been little more than heartbreak. They were swept by Atlanta in the 1995 NL Championship Series under manager Davey Johnson. They lost a one-game playoff for the NL wild card to the Mets in 1999 at Riverfront Stadium. They got swept by the Phillies in the first round two years ago.
Maybe it's finally their time.
"I had this one kid give me a sweatshirt that said, 'The Year of the 12,' " said manager Dusty Baker, who wears the uniform number. "He gave it to me in spring training. I believe in that. I'm only going to see one '12 while I'm living. It's a special year. I just feel that it's our year."