While the Reds are at the top of the Wild Card heap in the National League as of Monday, they are setting their sights a little higher these days.
Reds third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was named the NL Player of the Week for Aug. 7-13 on Monday because of his part in bringing the Reds within striking distance of St. Louis in the NL Central. Cincinnati began last week with a 4 1/2-game deficit to the Cardinals, and that has been sliced to a thin 1 1/2-game lead after winning four of seven against St. Louis and Philadelphia.
In seven games between the Cardinals and the Phillies last week, Encarnacion had at least one hit in each of those games, extending his hitting streak to 10 games. In five of the seven games, the third baseman scored or brought in at least one run. He hit .440 for the week with a .533 on-base percentage.
Encarnacion brought in what at the time was the go-ahead run in the top of ninth against the Phillies on Aug. 12, his fifth RBI of the series and the eighth of the week.
"I loved the way we came out there in the ninth," Reds manager Jerry Narron said after the game, a 9-7 win for the Reds. "Encarnacion is tremendous. [He] went down and got it for a base hit. It just shows you how far Eddie has come this year."
Encarnacion led the National League last week with 24 total bases and a .960 slugging percentage, including four home runs.
It was a week of walk-offs and extra-inning games for the Reds, and despite his impressive numbers last week, Encarnacion was never the star of any of the games. However, his timely hits and home runs seemed to always put the team in a position to win the four games they won.
On Aug. 9, for example, the Reds were down, 5-0, to the Cardinals, and Encarnacion's solo homer in the fourth inning brought the Reds to within one run. The Reds then went on to rally and win the game, 8-7, thanks to a walk-off home run by David Ross.
While the postseason can sometimes be defined by the big moments, it tends to be a lot of small moments of doing the right things at the right time that can get a team there. Encarnacion did his part to bring the Reds one step closer to the postseason, be it through the Wild Card or unseating the Cardinals in the NL Central.
Amanda Branam is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.