The first-place Cincinnati Reds had not lost three straight
games since mid-April until their current slump.
With Homer Bailey on the mound and the AL-worst Minnesota Twins
in town, things seem bound to change.
Cincinnati looks to avoid a season-worst four-game skid Friday
night when it begins its first series with the Twins in nearly 11
The Reds (38-30) entered their series with Cleveland riding a
season-best six-game winning streak, but they were swept for the
first time in 2012 with Wednesday’s 8-1 loss, marking the fewest
runs they’ve scored all month.
NL Central-leading Cincinnati hadn’t lost three straight since
April 12-14, and its three hits Wednesday were its fewest since a
season-worst two on the final day of that slump.
“It was a tough three days,” manager Dusty Baker said. “The
first two days we had chances to win those games. They beat us up
good (Wednesday). It’s a strange game.
“It will be nice to get home.”
The Reds hope Bailey can help them bounce back in the opener of
their first series with Minnesota since July 6-8, 2001, when the
Twins won all three games at home.
With the exception of allowing six runs over three innings in a
loss to Pittsburgh on June 5, Bailey (5-4, 4.03 ERA) has been solid
over his last seven starts. He improved to 4-1 with a 3.35 ERA in
that stretch after giving up one run in eight innings of a 4-1 road
win against the Mets on Saturday.
“Homer was outstanding,” Baker said. “He’s been pitching
He hasn’t been nearly as good at home, going 1-2 with a 5.35 ERA
while allowing nine homers in 33 2-3 innings. He’s 4-2 with a 3.09
ERA on the road, holding opponents to two homers in 46 2-3.
Bailey has also struggled in his last six interleague starts,
going 1-3 with a 4.72 ERA while the Reds have lost five times.
Minnesota (27-41), meanwhile, has dropped six of its last eight
interleague contests after Thursday’s 9-1 loss to Pittsburgh.
“As the story goes, if you don’t pitch, you get whacked,”
manager Ron Gardenhire said.
Somehow, that hasn’t been the case recently when Nick Blackburn
Blackburn (3-4, 7.48) is 3-0 with an 8.22 ERA in five starts –
all Twins victories – since May 11 after allowing four runs in six
innings Sunday against Milwaukee. He was 0-4 with a 6.84 ERA in his
first five starts.
The right-hander has walked 11 and struck out 10 in his last
five as opponents have hit .347.
Blackburn, who has never faced the Reds, has been awful in
interleague play over the past few years as well, going 1-4 with a
10.57 ERA over his last seven crossover starts.
Brandon Phillips was hitting .415 with three homers and 11 RBIs
during a nine-game hitting streak that ended with Wednesday’s
0-for-3 performance, but the Reds have reason to expect to bounce
back at home. They’ve averaged 5.7 runs and hit .300 in nine games
at Great American Ball Park this month.
Phillips is 15 for 34 (.441) with three homers in his last eight
Minnesota also struggled offensively in its series finale, as
Justin Morneau went 2 for 3 with a double as the only Twin with
That marked Morneau’s first extra-base hit since June 12, going
4 for 25 in the six games in between.