While their playoff hopes were secured with Bruce's ninth-inning blast, there's still the matter of home-field advantage and who plays whom in the National League Division Series. With that in mind, the Reds will treat each of their final five games with the utmost importance.
With the Phillies having clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, the playoff team with the worst record will be faced with the unfortunate task of opening the postseason in Philadelphia. If the Braves hold on to their lead in the NL Wild Card race, the Reds could host the Braves, if they finish ahead of the NL West champion.
No matter who they play and where, the Reds are happy to be returning to the playoffs and winning the NL Central for the first time since 1995.
"2010 playoffs, Cincinnati Reds. It doesn't get any better than that," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It's a wonderful thing, isn't it?"
As they look to keep rolling this week into the playoffs, which begin in the middle of next week, the Reds send right-hander Johnny Cueto to the mound Wednesday.
Cueto was roughed up last time out in his shortest start of the season as the Reds lost 13-1 to the Brewers in Milwaukee. Allowing eight runs on eight hits, Cueto lasted just 1 1/3 innings as the Brewers tallied all eight runs in the second inning on a double, two singles, a walk and a three-run home run.
He'll look for better results as he squares off against Astros starter Nelson Figueroa.
If his final start of 2010 goes as well as his final start of 2009, Figueroa is in for a big day. On the final day of the 2009 season, Figueroa threw a four-hit shutout against the Astros for the Mets. He makes his final start of this year on Wednesday against the Reds.
"You can't only hope for similar results," he said. "I feel good and feel like I've accomplished a lot this year and want to go out on a good note and leave a nice mark for next year. They have decisions to make in the offseason, and I would love to continue to be a part of this turnaround for next year."
Figueroa, who has lost three of his last five decisions, is arbitration-eligible at the end of the year and would like to return to the Astros, who claimed him off waivers July 21.
"I think picking me up off waivers was good for both of us," he said. "I got a chance to pitch in a lot of different roles and be successful. I got a chance to be part of this at the right time, and I feel I can only improve on what I've done. The staff got to know me and they know what I bring to the table.
"No matter what happens in arbitration, the cost of bringing me back isn't going to be so substantial it would be out of the realm of possibility. I feel like I'm still going to be a low-cost option to give them what they need. I 'd love to come back here and hopefully the feeling is mutual."
Astros: Two celebrations, two years, no playoff berths
For the second straight season, the Astros witnessed a celebration as a team clinched a playoff berth. Unfortunately, both times it was the opposing team that clinched.
On Tuesday, the Astros could do nothing but watch after Jay Bruce belted the first pitch he saw from Tim Byrdak for the game-winner at Great American Ball Park, clinching the Reds first division title in 15 years. A year ago, the Astros watched a similar scene as the Phillies clinched the National League East title.
Reds: Baker leads third NL club to playoffs
When the Reds clinched Tuesday night, manager Dusty Baker became the ninth manager to lead three different teams into the playoffs and only the second to lead three National League teams to the postseason.
Other managers to lead three teams to the playoffs include: Bill McKechnie, Davey Johnson, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland, Billy Martin, Lou Piniella, Joe Torre and Dick Williams. McKechnie is the only one other than Baker to lead three National League clubs to the playoffs.
Baker also became the third manager to lead three teams to the playoffs within a span of nine seasons. Martin did so with the Twins (1969), Tigers (1972) and Yankees (1976); and Johnson matched the feat with the Mets (1988), Reds (1995) and Orioles (1996)
Their walk-off victory Tuesday night was the Reds' 22nd win of 2010 that came in their last at-bat, which ties them for the second-most in the NL. ... For Baker, the Reds' division championship is the fourth of his career. He previously won in 1997 and 2000 with the Giants and with the Cubs in 2003. ... Right-handed pitcher Jordan Lyles and outfielder J.D. Martinez were named Tuesday as the Astros' Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Player of the Year, respectively.
Wed, 9/29 7:10 PM ET
Figueroa comes out on top in duel with Cueto
Nelson Figueroa closed his season with a shining effort against the newly-crowned NL Central champs. The righty's 6 2/3 shutout innings trumped Johnny Cueto's impressive start as Houston ended its three-game skid.
|Lee, Ca, LF||4||1||3||1||0||0||0||.248|
|Johnson, C, 3B||4||0||1||0||0||0||2||.315|
|Sanchez, Ag, SS||3||0||2||0||0||1||1||.280|
|Castro, Ja, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||3||.204|
|Figueroa, N, P||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.188|
|Lopez, W, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a-Hernandez, A, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.221|
|Abad, F, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|c-Phillips, B, PH-2B||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||.271|
|Nix, L, LF||3||0||2||0||1||1||1||.296|
|e-Cabrera, O, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.262|
|Miller, C, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||4||.239|
|f-Hernandez, Ra, PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.296|
|Smith, J, P||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
1-Ran for Nix, L in the 9th.
2B: Keppinger (34, Cueto), Lee, Ca (29, Cueto).
TB: Bourgeois; Keppinger 2; Lee, Ca 4; Johnson, C; Sanchez, Ag 2.
RBI: Lee, Ca (88), Wallace (11).
2-out RBI: Lee, Ca.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Johnson, C; Pence.
GIDP: Castro, Ja; Johnson, C.
Team RISP: 1-for-6.
Team LOB: 3.
TB: Bloomquist 2; Francisco; Heisey 2; Nix, L 2.
Runners left in scoring position, 2 out: Miller, C 2; Alonso; Janish; Votto.
Team RISP: 0-for-9.
Team LOB: 9.
SB: Stubbs (28, 2nd base off Lyon/Castro, Ja), Heisey (1, 2nd base off Figueroa, N/Castro, Ja).
CS: Francisco (1, 2nd base by Figueroa, N/Castro, Ja).
E: Alonso (2, throw).
DP: 2 (Valaika-Janish-Alonso, Alonso-Janish-Alonso).
|Figueroa, N(W, 6-4)||6.2||6||0||0||3||5||0||3.52|
|Lopez, W(H, 14)||0.1||0||0||0||0||1||0||3.06|
|Abad, F(H, 6)||1.0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3.06|
Pitches-strikes: Figueroa, N 104-69, Lopez, W 4-3, Abad, F 13-9, Lyon 19-12, Cueto 100-64, Smith, J 11-7, LeCure 13-8.
Groundouts-flyouts: Figueroa, N 5-3, Lopez, W 0-0, Abad, F 2-1, Lyon 3-0, Cueto 9-1, Smith, J 1-2, LeCure 2-0.
Batters faced: Figueroa, N 28, Lopez, W 1, Abad, F 3, Lyon 4, Cueto 26, Smith, J 3, LeCure 3.
Inherited runners-scored: Lopez, W 1-0.
Umpires: HP: Scott Barry. 1B: Jerry Meals. 2B: Tim McClelland. 3B: Dan Iassogna.
Weather: 73 degrees, clear.
Wind: 3 mph, L to R.
Compiled by MLB Advanced Media