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Cactus League Game 25 (I guess): Reds vs. A's

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Cincinnati Reds
@ Oakland Athletics

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

4:05 PM EDT
Goodyear Ballpark

Mike Leake vs. Craig Breslow

TV: None; RADIO: 700 WLW; WEB: Gameday, Gameday Audio

Sunny. Game time temperature around 65.

It doesn't rain in deserts. That's probably the first thing I learned about science. And yet we missed baseball yesterday like the deserts miss the rain. After the washout, we're presented with a rare and interesting controlled experiment. This is basically the same starting eight as yesterday, with two subtle differences. First, Hanigan is swapped back in for Mesoraco, after he was scratched late for complications from a foul tip. More importantly, Bruce and Gomes switch places in the order. With the lefty Breslow on the mound, Gomes is moved moved into the fifth spot that Bruce occupied yesterday.

It's not clear how much is attributable to Dusty's faith in Gomes against lefties - which is well-founded - versus his lack of faith in Bruce against lefties.  Bruce has struggled against lefties over the whole of his major league career -  batting a paltry .230/.312/.407 in 447 PAs. But most of that was growing pains. Those splits were obliterated last year, with JB actually slugging a better clip against left-handed pitching - .277/.352/.547 - than right: .283/.353/.469.

A similar evening-out of the platoon-splits happened when Bruce cruised through the high minors in 2007. While it's not worth losing any sleep over #5 vs. #6 in the order, Bruce deserves to get as many PAs this season as possible. What might be harder to sit with is that this flip-flop of Gomes to the #6 spot against righties, rather than flip-flopping another bat into the lineup, is Dusty's strategy for dealing with what normally calls for a platoon.

With Johnny Cueto officially starting the season on the DL, Mike Leake has secured his place in rotation, though the ordering at least seems tentative. Two solid starts to close out the spring would go along way to instill confidence in both Leake himself and all of us big fans of his early stuff.


Cincinnati Reds oakland athletics
Drew Stubbs CF
Coco Crisp CF
Brandon Phillips 2B
Daric Barton 1B
Joey Votto 1B
David DeJesus RF
Scott Rolen 3B
Josh Willingham LF
Jonny Gomes LF
Ryan Sweeney DH
Jay Bruce RF Kurt Suzuki C
Ryan Hanigan C
Mark Ellis 2B
Paul Janish SS Kevin Kouzmanoff 3B
Mike Leake P
Cliff Pennington SS