The plot continues to thicken, does it not?

The Cincinnati Reds have pulled within six games of first place in the National League Central division following Saturday’s 10-1 thrashing of the Cubs at Great American Ball Park. The important mini-goal of winning the series against division-leading Chicago is achievable in today’s series finale beginning at 1:10 p.m. Eastern time.

Here’s the Wild Card landscape as action begins today:

But the important question today for Redleg Nation: Have any of Aristides Aquino’s record-tying seven home runs in his first 10 games come on anything other than a fastball? The community here can certainly answer that question. After a double and a home run in his first two at-bats in Thursday’s series opener, Cubs pitchers fed Aquino a steady diet of breaking pitches low in the strike zone and just outside the strike zone. Aquino looked like a rookie, striking out three times. After Saturday’s amazing performance, it’s hard to believe that Cubs pitchers would throw him anything in the strike zone that doesn’t break.

Starting Pitchers

Jon Lester 123 4.39 4.13 22.6% 5.4%
Luis Castillo 137 2.63 3.56 29.5% 10.8%

The Reds have won five of Castillo’s last six starts, including the 13-strikeout gem Monday against the Angels. One of Castillo’s bugaboos has been the lack of control at times, but that has improved tremendously in recent weeks. In those afore-mentioned six starts, he walked only eight while striking out 49. As they say, that will get it done. In his last two starts against St. Louis and Oakland, Lester allowed 14 earned runs in nine total innings. It is an extension of what has been a very hittable season by major league hitters against Lester.


Sal Romano earned his second three-inning save of the season Saturday, effectively giving the key late-inning relievers the night off. The Cubs bullpen took another hit with veteran righthander Steve Cishek being placed on the injured list.

Starting Lineups

Cubs Reds
CF Jason Heyward CF Nick Senzel
RF Nicholas Castellanos 1B Joey Votto
3B Kris Bryant 3B Eugenio Suarez
1B Anthony Rizzo RF Aristides Aquino
SS Javier Baez SS Jose Peraza
LF Kyle Schwarber LF Phillip Ervin
2B Ian Happ 2B Kyle Farmer
C Victor Caratini C Tucker Barnhart
P Jon Lester P Luis Castillo

Very, very interesting decision to bat Jose Peraza fifth. He had a three-hit performance Saturday night.

Additional insights into the statistical history of the players in today’s game is available all season long at

News and Notes

The Reds are wearing 1969 throwback uniforms today …