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Game 4: Houston Astros at Cincinnati Reds

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Houston Astros
@ Cincinnati Reds

Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011, 7:10 PM EDT
Great American Ball Park

J.A. Happ vs. Mike Leake

Partly cloudy. Winds blowing out to center field at 10 m.p.h. Game time temperature around 50.

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The blog looks suspiciously clean. And my liquors have more water in them than I remember. When I left for my trip, Reds camp had turned into an infirmary down in Goodyear and the team was limping north. I returned to the open arms of a 3-0 record, headlined by one of the most exciting Opening Day victories in recent memory. It's enough to make me think my blogging doesn't have much of an effect on the fortunes of this baseball team. Or maybe it has a negative one. Ironically, the latter would probably be cooler.

The team notched an opening series sweep for the first time since 2005. While that season ended in tears, the next most recent 3-0 start in franchise history came in 1990. World Series Year Zero. Wackily enough, all five World Series championship teams in franchise history won their first three games. If you like to misuse statistics like I know I do, this all adds up to Wire to Wire II: Sweet Bruce, The Vottocrat and an Inevitable Run to at Least an NL Central Crown. My ghostwriter should have it cranked out by the All Star Break.

While anything can happen in the space of a single series, the Brewers series hinted at the possibility that the offensive regression we've been hearing about all offseason is not a fait accompli. On the run prevention side of things, 40% of the Plan A starting rotation - Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey - is on the disabled list. Mike Leake, who many had tagged for AAA during the spring, has yet to throw a pitch below the big league level. His first professional start just shy of a year a go, April 11, 2010, against the Cubs. Leake scattered a preposterous 7 walks, giving up only one earned run in 6.1 IP. He would tamp down the control problems and continue preventing runs into, pitching to a sub-3.00 ERA as late as June 21.

Let's hope Leake can draw on his experience from last season and start strong. If he's breaking, sinking and locating with prejudice, he should perform more like the Leake of Early 2010. If he's doing those things and still getting hit, well, maybe he's tipping pitches. Or maybe he's just unlucky. In the long baseball season, in which the Royals currently lead the AL Central, it stays early late.