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Strong Week Against NL Central Opponents

This week ended with two successful series against divisional opponents for the Reds.  The end result is the Reds one game ahead of St. Louis in the NL Central division.  Not only do they have the Central lead, but now own one of the top records in all the majors.

The week began with a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which showed us something we'll probably never see again: Aaron Harang running from first to home.  I use the term "running" lightly.  Maybe rumbling.  There must be a verb that can exemplify the sloppy, heavy steps taken by Harang, but I can't think of it at 1:45 AM.  Harang's pitching, along with an offense-heavy fourth inning propelled the Reds to a 7-5 win at home.

Tuesday's second of the four game series entertaining the Pirates was quite the pitcher's duel.  Another fantastic performance from rookie Mike Leake led to an eventual no-decision, and a Red's loss by a final score of 2-1.  Centerfielder Drew Stubbs lost a fly ball in the lights to give Akinori Iwamora a leadoff triple in the eighth inning, leading to an eventual score.  Brandon Phillips answered with his 100th career homer, only to have Nick Masset give up the game-losing home run to Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit.  The Reds couldn't answer in the bottom of the ninth, resulting in a 2-1 loss.

The following night saw another incredible starting pitching performance by veteran Bronson Arroyo.  Arroyo went 7 2/3 innings of shutout baseball.  After a seemingly rough first inning, Bronson really got it together and threw a great game.  Two RBIs by the run machine known as Orlando Cabrera sealed the deal Wednesday night to give the Reds a 4-0 shutout.  This game made 3 shutouts Reds pitching has handed the Pirates club this year.

This is the point in the week where the Votto-less Reds offense took flight.  The Reds bats produced 8 runs in an 8-2 victory Thursday night in the final game of the series with the Pirates.  Capping off this game was a three run home run by the strangely powerful Scott Rolen.  Before this season, no one could have predicted these offensive numbers from Rolen.  But it has been a pleasant surprise.  The Reds took three of the four games against Pittsburgh.

The Thursday game was only a warmup for the Reds weekend.  Sam LeCure made his major league debut after being called up from AAA Louisville to replace Homer Bailey in Friday's game.  Homer is expected to miss at least one more start.  LeCure was the beneficiary of some run support.  To the tune of 15 runs.  Not a bad way to start your major league career.  Highlighted by Drew Sutton's grand slam in the sixth inning, the Reds came away Friday night with a 15-6 victory over the NL Central opponent Houston Astros.

Saturday night was the same story.  Catcher Ramon Hernandez hit two home runs, Jay Bruce hit two home runs, Miguel Cairo (in place of Votto) homered, I think Dusty Baker may have homered.  When all was said and done, Reds batters racked up 6 home runs, and 12 runs total.  Coupled with a fantastic start from Harang, and the Reds end up with a 12-2 win in the second game of the series.  This game also made the Reds home run streak to 18 straight games.

Today's afternoon game had a different story.  Another start by Mike Leake, and he shows no signs of letting up.  Six innings and no earned runs.  Unfortunately, the Reds offense, after scoring 26 runs in the two prior games, could muster none today.  A 2-0 loss on this muggy Sunday afternoon in the Queen City.

After the week is over, the Reds took three of four against the Pirates and two of three against the Astros.  This leaves them with a record of 30-21, one game ahead of second-place St. Louis in the Central, and a 3 game series at St. Louis starting tomorrow afternoon.  It's about to get interesting.

     - Mike Zimmerman
       5/31/2010

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