Interleague play has not been kind to the Cincinnati Reds this year. After going 8-7 against American League competition in 2010, the Reds have won only three of 12 so far this year, with six games left to play. They’ve been outscored by a closer margin than their record would indicate, 55-47. What has been frustrating for many of us is that the Reds have actually outscored opponents in their last two series, but only came away with 1 win in each series.

The team will try to reverse that today, but the road ahead of them gets a little harder before it gets easier. The Tampa Bay Rays host the Reds in a 3-game series with the Rays three best starting pitchers on the mound. The Reds counter with their best two (based on recent performance) and their starter with the best “stuff”.

Game 1 (on ESPN2 – Monday Night Baseball):
Jeremy Hellickson, 7-6, 3.09 ERA, 1.14 WHIP – coming off 3 straight losing decisions, allowing 10 runs in last 18.2 innings
vs.
Mike Leake, 6-4, 4.19 ERA, 1.22 WHIP – his last start (4 runs in 6 innings) snapped a string of 5 consecutive quality starts

Game 2:
David Price, 8-6, 3.51 ERA, 1.06 WHIP – last outing was versus Brewers; he pitched 8 innings of 1 run baseball with 10 strikeouts
vs.
Johnny Cueto, 7-6, 1.63 ERA, 0.97 WHIP – has thrown 6 consecutive quality starts and won 3 straight decisions

Game 3:
Jamie Shields, 8-4, 2.29 ERA, 0.96 WHIP – has thrown 3 consecutive CG, allowing just 1 ER, 4 BB’s, and 24 K’s in those 27 innings
vs.
Edinson Volquez, 4-3, 5.77 ERA, 1.68 WHIP – 7 BB and 12 K in his last two starts, only 9.1 innings