"Tragic number" / "Magic slumber" = 1 & 3. The Reds are just one loss or Brewers win away from mathematical elimination from the division title and a combination of three losses or three Braves' wins away from WC elimination.
Sometimes it feels like Ryan Dempster faces the Reds about once a week. Dempster has now pitched 130 innings against the Reds in his career, compared 204 as a Red. You'd think there would be no new tricks for a 34-year-old pitcher that's been in the division almost 9 years. But Dempster has held the Reds' offense to a 2.88 ERA in 25 innings this season. Mike Leake, who made his career debut against the Cubs, has fared even better against Dempster's team: 2.74 over 23 innings.
Though I've seen no formal announcement, this is set to be Leake's final start of 2011. He's pitched 167 innings this season (7.1 in AAA), compared to 138.1 in 2010. He showed little stress last outing, throwing 91 pitches in 9 innings against the Cubs at Wrigley, though his decision was scuttled on a 2-run HR he surrendered in the bottom of the ninth to send the game to extras. While his counterparts have been suffering some high-octane poundings, Leake has kept it on an even keel, giving up more than 4 earned runs in a game just twice (5 in both cases) since he returned to starting in late May. That's a somewhat underwhelming achievement, but it's something to build on next year. Leake's 2011 campaign has improved on his 2010, in almost all respects: stamina, hittability, k-rate, ERA+. Like other Reds's starters in 2011, he's giving up more HRs.
The Reds and Cubs are two teams feeling sorry for themselves as September wears on. But if you decide to punt on the pitching, then fans of both teams can at least enjoy the fireworks from last night's game and hopefully a few more from the young guns tonight.
Lineup after the jump (In word and deed, it's clear Dusty loves Francisco. And I'm happy to have the chance to see him hit a few more monster jams in 2011. But how likely is it that Walt will trade away Dusty's toy this offseason to capitalize on his September power showcase?)
|2011 - Mike Leake||11-9||32||25||0||0||0||0||159.2||153||73||71||23||36||116||4.00||1.18|
|2011 - Ryan Dempster||10-11||31||30||0||0||0||0||176.2||186||96||93||20||64||169||4.74||1.42|
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