CLEVELAND, OH (AP) – Years of bottled-up frustration between Cleveland’s Derek Lowe and Reds manager Dusty Baker spilled over last week in Cincinnati.
The two won’t have to wait nearly as long to pick up where they left off.
As the Ohio Cup series resumes Monday night at Progressive Field, Lowe will take the ball in the opener just days after he and Baker took several verbal shots at one another.
The NL Central-leading Reds (38-27) outscored the Indians 24-9 in sweeping last week’s three-game series at Great American Ball Park. Brandon Phillips, who made his major league debut with Cleveland a decade ago, went 8 for 13 with two home runs and seven RBIs in the series, while Joey Votto was 5 for 10 with a pair of homers and six RBIs.
Although Cincinnati dominated the series, that success was somewhat overshadowed by a feud between Baker and Lowe (7-5, 3.78 ERA).
In the Reds’ 5-3 win on Wednesday, Lowe took exception to an inside pitch thrown by Mat Latos in the fifth inning. Lowe motioned to the Reds’ dugout, believing the pitch came on orders from Baker, and the Cincinnati skipper shook his finger back at him. In the bottom of the inning, Lowe hit Phillips and both benches were warned.
After the game, Lowe, who allowed three runs, five hits and a season-high tying six walks in six innings, reiterated his belief that the pitch was intentional and the result of what he described as a falling out he and Baker had four years ago. The 39-year-old right-hander said he has “zero respect for the guy.”
Baker acknowledged Latos was ordered to throw inside to Lowe in retaliation for Lowe’s hitting Votto in the back during a game in 2009. Baker claims there isn’t a personal issue between the two of them, but went right back at Lowe prior to Thursday’s finale.
“He don’t respect himself because the word was that whatever he did and said, there was probably a good chance he was drinking at the ballpark at that time three or four years ago, so he don’t remember what he said or what he did, OK?” Baker said.
“What he was talking about was something that he said and did a few years ago. You’ve got to ask him what that was. Understand? And he got a lot of people involved in the situation that didn’t need to be involved in the situation.”
Also before Thursday’s game, Lowe said he was aware of Baker’s response but wasn’t going to say anything more.
The biggest concern now for Lowe and the Indians is to return to their winning ways. Lowe has lost his two starts after going 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA in his previous eight, and Cleveland (33-32) has dropped five of six.
The Reds, meanwhile, pushed their winning streak to a season-high six games by sweeping the New York Mets at Citi Field.
Phillips hit a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning in Sunday’s 3-1 win, and is batting .419 with 10 RBIs during a season-high seven-game hitting streak.
“We’re having fun,” Phillips told the Reds’ official website. “It’s fun winning.”
Votto has been even hotter at the plate. He had three hits Sunday and has hit safely in 21 of 22 games, batting a remarkable .500 with 11 doubles and 19 runs scored.
Latos (5-2, 4.64), who got the win opposite Lowe on Wednesday by allowing two runs while striking out seven in seven innings, will get the ball looking to win a sixth straight decision.
The Reds lost Latos’ first three starts with the right-hander registering an 8.22 ERA, but he is 5-0 with a 3.73 ERA in 10 starts since as Cincinnati has won eight times.