Sure, it's just one game out of 162. But at stake tonight is a series victory over the Brewers, who are immediately ahead of the Reds in the division standings and who have not won a series against Cincinnati in just over two years. More importantly, a loss potentially opens a 6-game gap behind first-place St. Louis. Perhaps it's because I have difficulty counting when I have to use more than one hand, but anything beyond a 5-game difference gives me concern, even at this early stage. FWIW, the Reds were never more than five games out of the divisional lead in 2010.
On the hill for the good guys is Mike Leake, making his second start since returning from Louisville. Dusty Baker mentioned that he couldn't pinch hit for Chad Reineke with the bases loaded yesterday because his bullpen is still recovering from the recent roadtrip. But thanks to Johnny Cueto's complete game on Sunday and Jeremy Horst's cromulent long-relief performance yesterday, the bulk of the 'pen has rested in two of the past three games. So hopefully they'll be raring to go against this formidable Brewer lineup. Opposing Leake is Shaun Marcum, who started off his Milwaukee career in moribund fashion against the Reds on April 2, getting shelled for four runs in 4 2/3 innings and most likely retreating to the Winchester Pub before facing the press. Hopefully Drew Stubbs (the Zombie Killer) will again lead an annihilation on Shaun and bring the Reds offense back to life. They'll have their work cut out for them, as Marcum has thrown 66 innings in 10 starts since his opening disaster with a 2.59 ERA and a 5:1 K:BB ratio. Reds' lineup after the jump.Stubbs 8