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Joined: 14-December 08
Cincinnati Reds look to build on success
Series with Indians important to continue recent momentum
CINCINNATI -- Reds manager Dusty Baker was asked if he was ready to move beyond interleague play. His team, after all, hasn't exactly worn out the American League.
Baker dismissed the notion Cincinnati was ready for interleague play to end.
"We want to salvage this interleague before we think about leaving it," Baker said. "If you think about leaving it, that's kind of conceding what you've got left."
Salvaging is impossible at this point. And, were there concession speeches in baseball, the Reds would have given one long ago. Cincinnati is 5-10 in interleague play this year.
They wrap up play against the AL with a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians that begins today at 7:10 p.m. at Great American Ball Park. The Indians swept the Reds from May 20-22 in Cleveland.
What this series does, other than allow Cincinnati a chance to tie for the Ohio Cup, is allow the Reds to build on the good series in Tampa Bay. Cincinnati won two of three from the Rays, and it was the Reds' first winning series in interleague play in four tries.
A good showing against the Indians would set the Reds up well for the final seven games going into the All-Star Break, which are against the teams they are trailing in the NL Central.
The Reds go to St. Louis for the first of three Monday. After St. Louis, Cincinnati plays a four-game series at Milwaukee, which leads into the All-Star break.
"We have 10 days to go," Baker said. "We'll try to win as many games as we can before the break. I always tell my guys: This is like basketball right before the first half ends. You can get a quick 3-pointer, steal an inbounds pass, have the layup.
"Hopefully, we can pick up a couple of games while guys are thinking vacation. The teams we're playing aren't necessarily going to be thinking that. We've got work to do."
The key to success with the Reds continues to be starting pitching. In the just-concluded streak against AL East, Cincinnati was 1-4 when it didn't get a quality start (three earned runs or less in six innings pitched or more). It was 4-3 when it did.
Overall, it is 35-13 when getting a quality start. The Reds put up quality starts in all three games against the Rays. Starters were 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA in the series.
If Cincinnati can get starts like that in the Cleveland series, it might be able to salvage interleague play: if only a bit.