Win one game. Then win another. If the Reds don't, they'll find themselves at least 4 games back approaching their 100th game, probably 5. And definitely 6 if they lose the next two. If there is such a thing, this is an inflection point for the season. There are no singular must-win games in baseball, at least not before late September, but the outcome of these two games will probably go a long way in cementing the front office strategy entering the last 10 days of July - and in altering the season outlook on the whole. The Reds have scored a paltry 3 runs against the Buccos in their last three meetings. Can you win the NL Central while going 1-8 against the Pirates?
Charlie Morton has been a complete puzzle to the Reds in 2011, while James McDonald has been more of a weird game of backgammon. McDonald was walloped for 6 ER and two HRs by the Reds back in April and had an ERA over 6.00 as late as mid-May. He then pitched 6.2 strong innings of 1 ER, 1 BB ball in Cincinnati on May 19. He's been throwing quality starts (or near quality starts) since the beginning of June, including 6 scoreless innings against the Red Sox, to lower his ERA into the mid-4.00s. McDonald, like several other Pirates, was a once well-regarded prospect, since downgraded, who may be cashing in on some his potential later than impatient observers expected.
Mike Leake just has to be good until Ubaldo Jimenez joins the rotation.
|2011 - Mike Leake||8-4||21||15||0||0||0||0||94.2||90||45||45||11||24||69||4.28||1.20|
|2011 - James McDonald||5-4||17||18||0||0||0||0||97.2||104||51||48||13||49||78||4.42||1.57|