Surviving and Thriving

In recent months there have been a couple of possible threats to Mike Leake's spot in the Cincinnati rotation. After his last four starts he's not only solidified his spot, but he's now becoming one of the more reliable pitchers in a very reliable rotation.

Cincinnati shut out Pittsburgh for the second time in two games as they won 2-0 at PNC Park. Mike Leake got the start and scattered seven hits over six shutout innings to improve his record to 5-2 and lower his ERA to 2.75 as he struck out five while walking only one. An RBI single by Brandon Phillips in the fourth inning turned out to be all the Reds needed for the win, but Joey Votto added an insurance run with an RBI hit in the eighth. Votto and Todd Frazier each finished with two of their team's eight hits. Sam LeCure and Jonathan Broxton both tossed a scoreless inning to hand a lead to Aroldis Chapman. He did his normal job: one scoreless inning with two strikeouts for the save.

Before the season many thought that Leake would be on the outside looking in for a spot in the rotation when it was speculated that Chapman would be converted into a starter. Later some wondered if Tony Cingrani's performance replacing injured Johnny Cueto would keep him with the Reds at Leake's expense. Now if Leake maintains his current trend much longer people might wonder if he will land a spot on the all-star team.

Over his last four appearances he's gone 4-0 and allowed only one earned run in 27 innings. During that time he's struck out 22 while walking only four. He did a decent job manning the Reds five-man spot in the rotation last season and finished with a mid-four ERA. Now, five-man or not, the 25 year-old is making noises like he's going to assert himself as an even larger impact arm in the Reds pitching staff.

Since Leake skipped over the minor leagues entirely before his first start it's easy to forget his age because he's now in his fourth MLB season. His current age is around where most pitchers are making their initial debut and the start of many what turns out to be the peak years of many players career. That alone gave reason to believe there was potential upside left in his game coming into the season and now that upside is coming out while he's on the mound. The Reds used the eighth overall selection on him out of Arizona State in 2009 and now he's giving an more reason why he merited that investment.

The Reds separated themselves by one game over the third place Pirates but still lost a half-game to the red hot Cardinals who made up for a rainout Friday by sweeping the Giants. Those two teams are sitting on the top two records in the NL. The Reds will go for a road sweep Sunday when they send Mat Latos to the mound.

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Louisville allowed five in the fourth and never threatened after that in a 6-0 shutout loss at Toledo. Daniel Corcino allowed all six (four earned) for the loss. The Bats' bats were limited to four hits with catcher Konrad Schmidt collecting two of them.

Pensacola took a 1-0 lead into the seventh before visiting Jacksonville blew the game open in a 7-1 loss for the Blue Wahoos. Tim Crabbe was lifted in the seventh and charged with only two runs, which was enough to pin the loss on him. He allowed six hits a struck out seven while walking only one. Bryson Smith stroked two of his team's five hits and Crabbe drew two walks while in the batter's box.

Bakersfield rallied for four runs in the ninth to complete a comeback from six-run deficit and win at home over Rancho Cucamonga by a score of 9-8. Steve Selsky had two home runs including a two-run shot in the final inning. Yorman Rodriguez started the scoring in that frame with a solo home run and Juan Perez ended it with a walk-off single. Rodriguez had three hits in the game while Selsky reached with a walk in addition to his long-balls. Ryan Wright and Juan Duran also added a couple of hits each while Kyle Waldrop drew a couple of walks. Starter Jake Johnson got no decision and allowed six runs in four innings, but only two were earned. Brooks Pinckard finished with three scoreless innings and picked up the win.

Dayton fell behind early and never really threatened in a 7-3 loss to visiting Lake County. Jeff Gelalich reached with two hits and a walk and scored a couple of runs while raising his average to .289. Seth Mejias-Brean and Junior Arias also added a couple of hits while Jesse Winker reached with a hit and walk. Pedro Diaz took the loss by allowing four runs in five innings. Joel Bender and Wes Mugarian both tossed a scoreless inning of relief.

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