Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Five casual notes for opening night

After an off day on Tuesday, the Cardinals and Reds are back at it Wednesday night in game two of their three game set at Great American Ball Park.

Wednesday's action marks Opening Night in Cincinnati and the second of 19 games the rivals will play against one another in 2014.

Here are five notes to keep in mind about tonight's festivities on the diamond:

+ A pair of second-year pitchers will oppose each other in Michael Wacha versus Tony Cingrani. Wacha did not allow a single run to the Reds in two outings as a rookie. Meanwhile, Cingrani won both of his starts against the Redbirds in 2013. So, their track record suggests we could be in for another pitcher's duel.

+ St. Louis struggled when hitting against southpaws last season. They finished 27th in MLB after notching a .238 batting average. It's a new year, though, and you can bet that Mike Matheny is looking to turn this trend around in 2014.

+ Wacha led all qualifying National League pitchers in percentage of changeups thrown (27 percent) after being called up in early August. This could spell trouble for a Cincinnati club that batted just .213 in at-bats ending in a changeup in 2013. That was the fourth-lowest clip of any team.

+ The Reds will hand out some hardware at home plate before the game takes place. Brandon Phillips will receive his fourth career Rawlings Gold Glove Award while Jay Bruce will be given a Defensive Player of the Year award and a Silver Slugger.

+ The first 20,000 fans through the gates receive a 2014 team calendar courtesy of Kroger. Don't be too quick to leave your seat after the game either. The team will be blasting off some post-game fireworks as well. That's a rarity for a weeknight game as this spectacle is typically reserved for weekends.

Photo: USATI

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