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Matchup/Preview/Game Thread Game # 22 at Reds 6:10 CST

Roy Oswalt Brandon Claussen
4 - 0, 2.48 1 - 2, 6.75

Don't let 4 - 0 Bronson Arroyo fool you. Don't let the fact that the Reds' starters lead the league in strikeout-to-walk ratio fool you. And please, don't let Todd Coffey's 0.75 ERA fool you. These are in fact your same old Reds: very powerful with the bats, but ineffectual on the mound.

As you might expect, the Redlegs lead the league in homers, runs scored, and OBP, and are second to Colorado in slugging and OPS. The team offensive rankings so far are not all that different from the way 2005 ended: Cincinnati is at or near the top.

Even as he leads the league in strikeouts, Adam Dunn remains one of the most selective, most powerful hitters anywhere. And his example is followed: the Reds have four players with 50 or more at bats who have an OBP of .400, and seven players with at least 3 home runs. In all, the Reds have thirteen players (including the recently released Tony Womack) who are above the league-average .330 OBP, and have 11 players who have homered.

These are all very good reasons why they come into tonight's contest only a half-game back of Houston, and having won 8 of their last ten.

But the more things stay the same, the more they stay the same, and if the Cincy muscle-flexing offensively has become a tradition, so too has a Reds' staff that hemorrhages runs.

Overall, the Reds are 14th in the league in both BAA and OPS against. They are 13th in ERA and 11th in WHIP. Starters (probably because of Bronson Arroyo and Bronson Arroyo alone) have been slightly better than the relievers. The Reds' core of Arroyo, Harang, Claussen, Williams and Milton get as high as 8th leaguewide in WHIP and ninth in BAA. But they're still 13th in OPSa.

Of course, Claussen is the one they're going to lead with in this 4-game wraparound series. And boy did his ass get rocked in his last outing . . . .

Three innings, eight hits, nine runs, and four homers are the residue the Brewers left upon Mr. Claussen's permanent record. "I am not that bad a pitcher," he said afterward, and that would almost have to be true.

Claussen pitched 5-2/3 innings against the Astros last August 31, giving up 8 hits and four earned runs with three strikeouts and no walks in what became a 10 - 0 laugher for Houston, when his bullpen gave up six runs over the final 3-1/3.

Ausmus is four for five off Claussen with a double and four ribbies; Willy T is 3 for 6. Preston is 4 for 9 with three doubles off the guy.

Overall, the Reds' lefty is 0 - 3 vs. Houston with a 2.65 ERA, and an 11-6 strikeout to walk ratio.

Royboy has the 15 - 0 record you've probably heard about against Cincinnati, and as you might expect, some of these guys have faced him a lot.

Which might be a little scary, actually.

Dunn is 10 for 44 off Oswalt with four doubles, a triple a homer, and um, ten walks. Interesting with Griffey supposedly due to return tonight: Ryan Freel is 5 for 14 with a double and a homer, and Griffey is four for 25 with a double. Might they push Griffey's return back a night?

Over the last three years, Roy has a 2.92 ERA vs. the Reds, with 2.79 strikeout to walk ratio.

Oswalt won't become the National League's first five-game winner tonight, as Greg Maddux did that this afternoon. But depending on how well, and how quickly, Pedro can pitch this evening, our staff ace can definitely become the second.

Not sure what to say about Adam Everett. Last I heard, The Chronicle was saying he might play tonight. If Adam does take his spot at short, I wonder if that necessarily means Burke doesn't play. Biggio does not have a hit against Claussen in a very few at bats. Maybe Garner seizes on that, and gives the red-hot Burke the start at second?

My guess is no . . . .

Keep in mind that league-average EqA is .260, by definition:

Equivalent Average
EqA Astro Pos Red EqA
x .322 Brad Ausmus C1 Javier Valentin .229
.172 Eric Munson C2 David Ross .320 x
x .339 Lance Berkman 1B Scott Hatteberg .302
x .293 Craig Biggio 2B Brandon Phillips .284
.242 Adam Everett SS Felipe Lopez .277 x
x .370 Morgan Ensberg 3B Edwin Encarnacion .302
.282 Jason Lane OF1 Adam Dunn .323 x
.240 Willy Taveras OF2 Ryan Freel .283 x
.216 Preston Wilson OF3 Austin Kearns .281 x
-.119 Orlando Palmeiro OF4 Ken Griffey, Jr. .275 x
x .386 Chris Burke Util/PH Rich Aurilia .269