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Game Preview: Reds at Cards (8/18/2014)

The Cincinnati Reds come into town tonight after losing both ends of a brutal doubleheader to the Rockies yesterday. Tonight also marks the return of Brandon Phillips to the the Cincinnati lineup after he suffered a similar thumb injury on the same day as our own Yadier Molina. Historically, the Cards have dominated the Reds at Busch Stadium, winning 12 of the last 13 series played in St. Louis. Currently, the Cardinals are three games back in the NL Central but are pacing the field for the Wild Card chase.

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The Pitching Matchup: Justin Masterson (6-7, 5.58 ERA) returns to the bump tonight, looking to build upon his solid start his last time out. After two disastrous outings to begin his Cardinals’ career, Masterson rebounded last time out against the Marlins, throwing 7 innings of three hit, no-run baseball. Since 2011, Masterson has dominated the Reds; posting a 0.78 ERA in 23 innings pitched with 21 strikeouts. However, the Red with the most familiarity to Masterson–Brayan Pena–also has the highest batting average against him. The former battery mate of Masterson has hit .375 against him in his career while no other Red with more than 5 at-bats has hit above .300. Brandon Phillips does have a homer in 18 at-bats against the Cardinals’ righty.

Opposing Masterson tonight is Mike Leake (9-11, 3.59 ERA) of the Reds. Leake took the loss against the Red Sox his last time out, but he has been fairly consistent all season. Long considered Bronson Arroyo’s protege, Leake is not a power pitcher but can dial a fastball into the low 90’s when he needs to. Mostly the diminutive righty relies on the control and movement to get hitters out. While his win-loss record doesn’t reflect it, this season has been an impressive follow up to his breakout season last year. One aspect of Leake’s game that often goes unnoticed, however, is how proficient he is with the bat. Leake already has two homers this year which is more than Reds’ backup shortstop Ramon Santiago can boast. Matt Holliday is the only Cardinal with prolonged success against Leake, as he has hit .393 with a homer against him.

The Skinny: While every series counts, this one maybe counts a little bit more considering the history between these two teams. Even though the Reds are reeling right now, their pitching has always been their calling card, so this team shouldn’t be underestimated. The Cards need to jump on Leake’s mistakes and hope for the good Masterson to show up once again.

The Lineup:

  1. Matt Carpenter 3B
  2. Kolten Wong 2B
  3. Matt Holliday LF
  4. Matt Adams 1B
  5. Jhonny Peralta SS
  6. AJ Pierzynski C
  7. Oscar Taveras RF
  8. Jon Jay CF
  9. Masterson P

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