Friday, May 18, 2012

Reds vs. Yankees series preview




The Reds stay in the Big Apple and seek to wash away the sour taste of Thursday’s meltdown as they head to Yankee Stadium and an interleague date over the weekend. Cincy’s constant love affair with the .500 mark continues as the Reds enter in at 19-18. But, hey, what better jump start than some wins in the Bronx?

There’s been a lot of grumbling of late about the Reds mediocrity, and with good reason, but they’re actually in better standing in their division (second, 2.5 games back) than the Yankees (third, four games out). Sure, the AL East is much stronger than the NL Central, but those are details and asking for all the details never made anyone the life of the party.

Friday, 7:05
Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.25) vs. Andy Pettitte (0-1, 5.68)

So the last time Bronson started, I made a little ode to everyone’s favorite singing pitcher and the tremendous start he had gotten off to. Then he promptly allowed 11 hits in five innings against the Nats. I’ll keep quiet this time. I will mention, though, that this is a bit like turning back the clock for the former Boston Red Sox starter. It’s been a while, but Arroyo has history with the Yanks – he has no record and a 5.45 ERA in 39.2 innings against them.

Don’t adjust your screen, Andy Pettitte really is the probably starter for Friday night. If you avoid all things Yankees (which means you never watch ESPN), you might have missed the veteran left-hander’s comeback attempt. He made his first major league start in over a year last week against Seattle, surrendering four runs and seven hits in 6.1 innings.

Saturday, 1:05
Homer Bailey (1-3, 4.35) vs. Ivan Nova (4-1, 5.44)

The big talk on the post-game shows after Bailey’s last outing (6.2 innings, six hits one run against the Braves) is that Homer seems to get himself jacked up for certain games – while sleep walking through others. Well, if he was amped in Atlanta, he certainly should be ready to battle at Yankee Stadium. This will be Bailey’s first appearance against the Yanks, but there are a couple former NL guys in their lineup with success against him – Raul Ibanez (1-for-2, home run, three RBI), and Russell Martin (.375 in eight at-bats).

Nova is looking to bounce back from an ankle injury and a rough last turn at Baltimore (five runs, seven hits in 5.1 innings). The beauty of having the type of offense like the Yankees’ behind you – despite having an ERA of nearly five and a half, Nova has a pretty record of 4-1.

Sunday, 1:05
Johnny Cueto (4-1, 1.89) vs. CC Sabathia (5-1, 3.77)

Well, Johnny proved that he “isn’t a robot” with a disastrous outing at Atlanta in his last turn – allowing five earned runs in just four innings in easily his worst start in over a year. One bad inning (the third) allowed things to come off the rails for the Reds ace, but Cincy needs a little more of what they’ve come to expect from the right-hander (one run in 23 innings prior to Atlanta) on Sunday. Not many batters in the Yanks lineup have much of any sample size against Cueto, except for the pesky Ibanez who has also been a nuisance to Johnny - .364 in 11 at-bats.

There are many mysteries of life I ponder while thinking about Reds baseball, like why Dusty Baker can't hit lefties back-to-back in the lineup, or who thought Gapper was a good idea. And also why there are no periods after the C's in CC Sabathia's name. Hmm.

Anyway, It’s especially important for Cueto to be on as he’s getting a top notch opponent in big CC. Sabatha is looking to start a new winning streak after allowing four runs in six innings against Baltimore in his last outing. Between his Brewer days and his part in the Battle of Ohio in days of old, CC has plenty of experience with the Redlegs – and he’s pretty much owned them (4-1, 2.33 ERA, 75 strikeouts in 73.1 innings). No current Red has really had much of any success against the big left-hander (he’s been especially tough on Joey Votto - .167 batting average in 12 at-bats) except for Ryan Ludwick - .333. But then again, that’s in a mere three at-bats.

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