While the offense is chugging along at the best runs-per-game clip in the NL (6.8), the pitching is chugging something else. Rancid milk? Or maybe it's just "the Arizona, stupid." After allowing a mere 20 runs during the first six games at Great American "Small" Park (their words, not mine), Reds pitching/defense yielded 24 in just 3 games in Arizona. This after a spring in Goodyear, AZ marked by virtually every starting pitcher getting hit around.
With the unfriendly confines of AZ behind them, the Reds find themselves essentially as far from home as they can be. The Reds hit well in Petco last season, but were just 2-4 on the season against the Friars. The new-look Padres, complete with ex-Reds Harang and Jorge Cantu, have played to a .500 record so far in 2011, behind some nice pitching performances. While we're all happy to know that Harang has picked up 2 of the team's 4 wins (complete with 1.50 ERA and 1.083 WHIP) the Reds will be missing him this series. So there's just no room for mixed emotions.
Edinson Volquez is still looking for his first quality start. He's certainly been missing bats, boasting the best K-rate of starters thus far (10.6). But his other fielding-independent pitching has been atrocious. Seven walks and three HRs in 11 IP. He's throwing gas, touching 97 if you believe the radar guns - and even throwing a few more curve balls than usual to good effect. But he's been so erratic that hitters have been able to wait on that fastball up and over the plate. He really needs to get his command back and good things will start happening. Why not start in San Diego, home of the San Diego Command Museum?
With two wins, Reds can salvage a .500 West Coast swing, which is good for 2-out-of-three anywhere else. With a sweep, they not only eek out a winning road trip, but guarantee a triumphant return home in first place.
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