The late spring heat wave that is sweeping into San Diego County is about as hot as the Padres bats have been over the last three games. The chilled bats have caught fire and the Friars look to ride their momentum into Cincinnati for a three game series against the Reds.
The Cincinnati Reds (17-19) currently find themselves in the middle of the pack in the NL Central, but a full six games behind the powerful, league-leading Milwaukee Brewers. The Reds have been hit and miss so far this year, but will be riding an adrenaline high coming down from Colorado, after taking two games against the high-powered Rockies. They were two much-needed wins for the Reds, who are looking to stay within an arms-length of the Brewers and second place Cardinals.
For the Friars to be successful, their bats are going to have to stay hot against a very good pitching staff in the Reds, and much like the Padres, the Reds look to their pitching staff to keep them in close games, as they have throughout the first part of the season. Runs will not come easy against the Reds, so the Padres will have to continue to get on base, advance the runners and hope for the long ball. It will be a tough battle for the Padres, as the Reds pitchers are only allowing opposing teams to hit .230 on the season, and are currently posting a 3.47 ERA.
Game 1 of the series in Cincinnati will match up pitchers, Andrew Cashner (2-5) and Mike Leake (2-3), both victims of lack of offensive support, whose overall records on the year do not reflect the true effectiveness of their pitching through the early baseball season. Cashner, who is posting a strong 2.86 ERA has been solid, and with any kind of run support and a little bit of luck, he could be a five game winner. Same goes for Mike Leake. The 26-year-old right-hander, who has posted a 3.40 ERA on the season, has seen his Reds offense struggle to give him any type of support. Over his last three starts, the Reds have only produced four runs in support of Leake.
The first game of the series will set the stage for a big time pitching match up in the second game on Wednesday between the Friars’ Ian Kennedy, and perhaps the best pitcher in MLB at the moment, Johnny Cueto for the Reds. Cueto has been a monster on the mound, leading the majors with a 1.43 ERA, and striking out 68 batters in 63 innings pitched. He is a pure rock and fire pitcher that has added a reliable change-up to go with his dominating fastball. He will be the toughest test of the season for the Friars, but with their confidence riding at a season high, it should be a great duel.
The story has been the same for the San Diego Padres and the Cincinnati Reds—pitching will keep both clubs in the ball games, but both teams must receive good run support to be successful. Both teams are riding some strong momentum and both are fighting to stay within striking distance of teams ahead of them. It is still early in the season, but this is a big series for both teams who are hoping for the same thing…runs, runs runs.
Game 1 is scheduled for 4:10pm (PST) in Cincinnati.
Commentary by Johnny Caito