In his last outing, Reds right-hander Homer Bailey became the first Major Leaguer since Nolan Ryan in 1974-75 to throw two no-hitters without another pitcher tossing one in between.
Now, as he prepares to take the hill for the first time since his no-hitting the Giants last Tuesday, Bailey has his sights set on former Reds hurler Johnny Vander Meer. Last month marked the 75th anniversary of Vander Meer's back-to-back no-hitters, thrown on June 11 and 15, 1938, against the Boston Braves and Brooklyn Dodgers, respectively.
"I was just thinking, Homer has a shot," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "You got to get the first one."
That first one came on Tuesday in a dazzling performance against the Giants. Bailey, who also threw a no-hitter last Sept. 28 against the Pirates, struck out nine and narrowly missed out on a perfect game, allowing only one baserunner on a leadoff walk to start the seventh inning.
His chance for a second straight no-hitter -- and third overall -- will come against a team that passed on him in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft. The Brewers considered taking Bailey with the No. 5 overall pick -- two picks before the Reds actually pulled the trigger -- but instead selected Mark Rogers, whose career is currently on hold due to a shoulder issue.
Bailey will be opposed by the Brewers' Kyle Lohse as the two division rivals open a three-game series.
Regardless of the opponent or the potential for history with another no-hitter, Bailey said he needs to be the best he can be in Monday's start.
"It's only happened once. I guess there's not really too many things in the history of the game that you can say only happened once," Bailey said. "There's no way I can go into my next one and keep that on my mind. I'd imagine probably the first guy will get a hit and I'll be done with the whole thing."
However improbable another no-hitter may be, the Reds would gladly just settle for a victory after dropping two of three against the Mariners over the weekend. Bailey, too, could use another win to his name as he enters the contest 5-6 with a 3.57 ERA on the season.
"We're more interested in getting him back to .500 than anything," Baker said, "because the next start he can get back to .500. He's definitely on a confidence streak."
Bailey isn't so much worried about reaching the .500 mark for his own good, but is instead focused on winning to help improve Cincinnati's third-place standing in the National League Central.
"At the end of the day, we're trying to win games," Bailey said. "We're trying to get on top of the division."
Reds: Daunting road slate awaits
Starting with Monday's series opener in Milwaukee, the Reds will play just three of their next 20 games at home.
Following their three-game set against the Brewers, Cincinnati will travel to Atlanta for a four-game set leading into the All-Star break. The Reds will open the second-half with a three-game home series against the Pirates, before embarking on a three-city, 10-game road trip to San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.
"It's a challenge," Baker said. "Everybody has that somewhere on their schedule where they have a month where they're gone a lot. Some teams I've talked to have had it already."
The Reds are 20-22 on the road this season, though they lost all three series and six of eight games overall on their most recent road trip to Arizona, Oakland and Texas from June 21-30.
"I told my boys we just have to be the best road team that month," Baker said. "We don't have a choice."
Brewers: Lohse looks to keep rolling
Though the spotlight figures to be on Bailey come Monday night, Lohse has been on a hot streak of his own.
The veteran righty hasn't lost since May 30 and -- omitting a rain-shortened June 30 outing against the Pirates -- has turned in six consecutive quality starts. The most recent came Wednesday against the Nationals, when he matched a season high by working eight innings while allowing just one run off four hits.
"Every pitcher should be like [Lohse]," Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez said. "He works fast, throws strikes. Some guys don't realize that you give the hitter less time to think when you do that. If you look at other guys like that, they're all successful."
• Bailey is just 1-6 with a 6.00 ERA in 12 career starts against the Brewers.
• In tossing his second straight no-hitter on June 15, 1938, Vander Meer issued eight walks while striking out seven on his way to accomplishing the historic feat.