Cincinnati righty Mike Leake, who gets the ball for the first time this season, hopes to change that when the Reds face the Cards on Tuesday night in the second game of a three-game set at Great American Ballpark.
Leake makes the start against righty Kyle Lohse when the two National League Central rivals square off in the second of their 15 meetings this season. St. Louis took the opener with an easy 7-1 victory that gave the Cardinals a 4-1 mark on the young season.
For Reds manager Dusty Baker, the decision to start Leake wasn't a tough one. Baker could have gone with ace Johnny Cueto, who would have been on normal rest because of an off-day. But he dismissed that notion quickly.
"You have to pitch Leake sometime," Baker said. "You don't want Leake to go two weeks without pitching. It's a long [season], and the extra day won't hurt Johnny, either."
Catcher Ryan Hanigan pointed to Leake's consistency as what makes him a staple in the Reds' rotation. Leake led the club in wins and strikeouts last season.
"He was one of our more consistent pitchers last year," Hanigan said. "He threw the ball on both sides of the plate. He attacks guys and makes pitches when he needs to. He's real deceptive with his offspeed stuff."
Opposing Leake will be Lohse, who is pitching against the team he played for in 2006-07. Back then, Lohse was a bit of a nomad -- joining the Reds in midseason during '06 and leaving for Philadelphia midway through '07. With St. Louis, he's found his niche, as he is currently embarking on his fifth season with the Redbirds.
Lohse is coming off a stellar Opening Day start in the first game at Marlins Park, holding Miami hitless for 7 1/3 innings. He allowed one run, two hits and no walks in the 4-1 win.
He'll have to contend with Reds slugger Joey Votto on Tuesday night, who is hitting .333 with a pair of doubles against Lohse. Votto, of course, re-upped with the Reds through the 2023 season a week ago.
It was a bit of an against-the-grain move for an All-Star first baseman in the NL Central, as both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder left the division to sign lucrative contracts in the American League. Now, among first baseman, the division seemingly belongs to Votto.
Cardinals: Week 1 kind to Furcal
With an 0-for-4 night on Monday, Rafael Furcal's hot start to the season was slowed a bit. But the 10 hits he has in his team's first five games were just two shy of the club's record of 12 -- done four times, and last accomplished by Curt Flood in 1968.
To say Furcal (.435) is off to a better start than last season would be an enormous understatement. In 2011, Furcal started his year by hitting .192 in his first seven games before being placed on the disabled list, where he stayed for more than a month.
Third baseman and World Series hero David Freese is batting .417, and he has hit safely in each of the club's first five games.
Reds: Phillips looking for another thousand hits in red
After he became the 28th player to notch 1,000 hits as a member of the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, second baseman Brandon Phillips got to work on what he hopes will be another thousand with the club he's been with since 2006.
Phillips is the second-longest tenured Red, just a few weeks behind righty starter Bronson Arroyo. Both came over to the club in 2006 trades, and at the time, Phillips wouldn't have guessed they'd still be together in 2012.
"It surprises me that we're both here," said Phillips, who will be a free agent after the 2012 season. "We've played under many managers, and I've been next to 20-plus shortstops. It's a blessing that I am still here. Hopefully, I will be here for more years to come. It'd be nice to have the next 1,000 hits here."
Jay Bruce's new, more selective approach seems to be working as he has belted three homers in the club's first four games -- including two on Sunday against Miami.
"I try to stay over the plate," Bruce said. "I have an approach I've really worked on."
Leake has struggled in the past against the Cardinals, but he has pitched well against the hitters currently on the Cards' 25-man roster. Although he's posted a 6.97 ERA in three games against St. Louis, Leake has held the current Cardinals hitters to just a .220 average.
The sample size is small, at just 41 at-bats. St. Louis hitters have mustered just two extra-base hits -- both doubles. Lance Berkman leads the current St. Louis roster with 10 plate appearances against Leake, and is hitless.
The Cardinals already have as many wins (one) at Great American Ballpark as they did in all of 2011, when they were 1-5.
Lohse has quality starts in each of his last two outings against the Reds. He pitched against them once in 2011 and once in 2010, allowing three runs in 13 total innings.