Happy Independence Day everyone. Even though Chris Carpenter has had them cancelled throughout the Midwest, fearing possible smoke drift into Busch Stadium, there may still be fireworks tonight. This game is positively off the Fervor Chart. Johnny Cueto makes his first start in St. Louis since The Kick and Carpenter, who may or may not have brought in a child psychologist specializing Explanations for tonight's game, just happens to be sharing the mound.
It sounds weird to say I'm relieved to see the Cardinals, but I think it's true. With inter-league play safely in the rear-view, I'm ready to get back to seeing NL Central teams on a regular basis. While the Reds went an ugly 6-12 against the AL, they're 24-14 against NL Central teams. Justin correctly labeled the upcoming 10-game stretch against Division co-leaders St. Louis and Milwaukee (4 vs. MIL and 6 vs. STL) "huge." The Reds are still only an improbable 2 games back in the Central. Handling the Cards and Brewers like they have so far in 2011 could easily land the Reds back in first.
Also, what do we think about Fred Lewis as semi-regular lead-off hitter? He's currently getting on base at a .364 clip, which he's capable of sustaining if shielded from lefties (career OBP of .357 vs. RHP). Chris Heisey has the advantage in defense and power, but Lewis gives the Reds a tantalizing option to hit in front of BP and Votto against righties. The three-headed left-fielder is working pretty OK right now, though it may pay diminishing returns as the season wears on.
Lineup after the jump.
|2011 - Johnny Cueto||5-2||9||10||1||0||0||0||68.1||45||18||14||5||19||48||1.84||.94|
|2011 - Chris Carpenter||3-7||17||17||2||0||0||0||114.2||125||57||51||10||26||90||4.00||1.32|