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Reds at Indians – Free Pick for June 18th

Cincinnati Reds -106 at Cleveland Indians -104 (Total: 8.5)

Mat Latos (5-2, 4.64 ERA) vs. Derek Lowe (7-5, 3.78 ERA)

This game, which is already a good one between intra-state rivals and contending ballclubs, got a heck of a lot more interesting thanks to an odd and nebulous feud between Reds manager Dusty Baker and tonight’s Cleveland starter, Derek Lowe.  Apparently it all stems back to several years ago and some odd comments (allegedly) made by Dusty Baker back in 2008.

The feud resurfaced last week after Lowe hit Phillips, and Dusty unleashed some gems including “[Dikembe] Mutombo didn’t shake his finger to say ‘I had nothing to do with it.’ That means don’t mess with me, or my team. That’s what that means. He better learn sign language.”  And Lowe responding, “I have zero respect for the guy.  Not that it matters. I imagine he’d say the same about me.”

Priceless.  Too bad they don’t over over/under odds for how many people get plunked and whether or not the benches clear tonight.  Alas, we shall have to focus solely on the game between the lines, which should be a good one nonetheless.

Cincinnati enters as the hottest team in the National League, and the hottest team in all of baseball save for the Yankees.  They have won six straight games and completed a series of the Mets (who have just lit up Tampa Bay for 29 runs in three games) in which they outscored them 14-5.  Over their six game winning streak the Reds have averaged nearly 10 hits per game.  Couple that with solid starting pitching and the best bullpen in baseball, and it’s a pretty good recipe for success.

Cleveland enters the game struggling, having lost five of six and eight of eleven overall.  The problem has been their starting pitching.  In three of their last four games they have gotten completely shelled, allowing nine, twelve and twelve runs respectively.  In the middle was a 2-0 shutout win over Pittsburgh.  Baseball, right??  They are going to need a great outing from Lowe tonight to stop a red-hot Reds offense.

The most underrated aspect of the Reds win streak has been their incredible defense.  They are the best defensive team in the league, boasting gold-glovers all over the field, but since there aren’t any real stats to quantify it, it goes largely unnoticed.  I think Latos does a good job keeping a scuffling Indian team in the yard tonight and the Cincy defense does the rest.  This team (if not baseball fans and Reds fans especially) thinks the world of Dusty.  They will come out sharp to back up “their guy” tonight.

Free Pick:  Cincinnati Reds to WIN -109