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So, when you saw that the Orioles would play in Cincinnati for three games starting Tuesday night – the first time they’ve played the Reds on the road since 2005 — you knew it was going to be a clash of division leaders, right?
OK, so we knew the Orioles (8-3) were a decent team, but would have to be ready to compete early, because the month is stocked with American League East foes (with the exception of the Reds). The Orioles were capable of getting hot out of the gate, but it would be a challenge.
Aside from first baseman Joey Votto, they may be the most unrecognizable club in the majors. And things looked really bleak early on when two starting pitchers they were counting on, Anthony DeSclafani and Homer Bailey, were lost due to injury before the season began. Neither may not pitch until late June. Two other starters, Brandon Finnegan and Rookie Davis, are also currently on the disabled list.
So how the heck are these Reds (8-5) leading the NL Central?
Well, I asked that question to C. Trent Rosecrans, the Reds’ beat writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, in this week’s “Around The Beat.”
Rosecrans first thought: It’s early; really early.
His second: The team’s bullpen, used in an unorthodox fashion by manager Bryan Price, has been excellent. Led by the hard-throwing tandem of Rasiel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen, the Reds’ bullpen is 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA in a mind-numbing 57 2/3 innings through 13 games.
You thought the Orioles bullpen has been used a lot? The Reds’ relievers have thrown 20 more innings than the Orioles (albeit in two more games). That’s partly because of the Reds’ rotation’s struggles. But it’s also because Price isn’t using his relievers in set roles. Iglesias, widely considered the team’s “closer,” entered his last outing in the fifth and pitched two innings for the win. So, yeah, these Reds are fun to watch – and a little different — right now.
The Orioles have three intriguing pitching matchups in Cincy: Tonight, it’s Kevin Gausman versus Bronson Arroyo, whom the Orioles came close to signing in 2014; Wednesday, it’s Ubaldo Jimenez versus rookie Amir Garrett, a former college basketball player at St. John’s University; and Thursday, it’s Wade Miley against old friend Scott Feldman, whom the Orioles acquired in 2013 in a trade for a guy named Jake.
The Orioles and Reds don’t face each other often. This is just the fourth interleague matchup between the two sides; the Orioles are 6-3 in those games.
The clubs last played in 2014, when the Orioles swept a three-game series at Camden Yards They’ve only played once at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, back in 2005 when the Reds won two of three. The teams also matched up in the 1970 World Series, of course, with the Orioles winning in five games.
Times have changed some since then, but hey, for now, these storied clubs are leading their respective divisions again. So, for all things Reds, give this podcast with Rosecrans a listen.
Also, if you want to hear more of me talking baseball – and I’m almost sure you do – you can check out my weekly radio show by clicking here, by checking out WOYK1350.com’s website or by downloading it as a podcast from iTunes.
This week’s guests are MASN analyst Rick Dempsey and Associated Press sportswriter Dave Ginsburg, who combined for a newly released book of Dempsey’s baseball memories called, “If These Walls Could Talk, Baltimore Orioles.”
Dempsey and Ginsburg talk about putting the book together as well as their impressions on the Orioles’ fast start. It’s worth a listen or a download, too.