Despite a 3-9 record in interleague play, one team the Cincinnati Reds will be happy to face is the Tampa Bay Rays. Cincinnati -- which begins a three-game road series with the Rays on Monday -- is 6-0 all-time against Tampa Bay.
Mike Leake, who’s lost his last two starts, takes the mound for the Reds. He still struggles against left-handed hitters (.294 opponent batting average), but he has improved against righties. Last season, right-handed batters hit .292 against Leake, but are hitting just .230 in 2011.
Lefties have hit Leake well this season (.297), as have leadoff and cleanup hitters. The top of the order has hit .385 (15-39) with two home runs against Leake. No. 4 hitters have fared even better, going 15-for-33 (.455) with two home runs.
Opposing Leake will be Jeremy Hellickson. He was the American League pitcher of the month in May, going 4-0 with a 1.36 ERA. His June ERA is 3.81, but he’s lost three of his four starts and has allowed four home runs in 26 innings and struck out just one more hitter than he’s walked (10).
Hellickson, however, has not received much in the way of run support. In his last three starts, the Rays’ offense is hitting a combined .091 (8-88) with one run scored.
Some other notes from tonight’s game:
• Since their 1-8 start, the Rays are 43-26, the second-best record in the majors over that span.
• The Reds are tied with the Colorado Rockies for the most comeback wins this season with 23, but they're the worst team in the NL in one-run games at 11-15.
• Jay Bruce has cooled off considerably for the Reds. After hitting .342 with 12 home runs in May, Bruce has gone deep just once in June and is hitting .225 this month.
• Only one pitcher has 10 wins for both franchises: Paul Wilson.