The stakes tonight are pretty clear. The loser of the game is in last place. The winner isn't. In particular for the Reds, a win tonight means they can leave Pittsburgh with the slimmest shred of dignity since they won't be in last place after Sunday. Can you feel the excitement?
In 26 innings over 4 starts, Justin Lehr has 8 walks and 7 strikeouts. Of course, he did walk 6 batters in his first start of the year, which really screwed up the ratio, but still, he has 7 strikeouts in 26 innings. That's less than 2.5 strikeouts per 9 innings. It baffles me how he has managed to have the success that he has in his 4 starts. I'm truly baffled.
Zach Duke appears to be putting together a nice little season. What's strange is that his peripherals don't look that different than his 2008 numbers, but the big difference for him is that he's giving up a lot fewer hits than last year. He's had a lot of help from his defense to be sure, especially compared to last year. He's had some success over the last few years against the Reds, including earlier this May when he pitched 7 innings and allowed just 1 run but took the loss as he was out-dueled by Bronson Arroyo.
If you are watching the game tonight, I hope you enjoy it. I'm not sure I've got the stomach for this type of action.