Rain forces Reds to play DH with Yanks

Published 2:12 am Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Associated Press

CINCINNATI — Slumping Reds hitters took batting practice in their indoor cages while it stormed outside, waiting to see if they’d get to play. Even though the game was soon called, the extra swings weren’t wasted.

They way Cincinnati’s offense is grinding along, it can use more work.

Email newsletter signup

Rain forced Cincinnati’s game against the New York Yankees to be postponed on Tuesday night and rescheduled as part of a day-night doubleheader a day later. Both teams are staying with their pitching matchups.

Pitching hasn’t been the Reds’ problem lately. The NL’s most prolific offense has gone into a sudden slump, scoring only seven runs in the last four games. The Reds have lost three of them.

“Hey man, this game goes in cycles,” manager Dusty Baker said. “Sometimes there is no explanation.”

Despite injuries and the slump, the defending NL Central champions remain in contention. They were 2 1/2 games out on Tuesday, a reassuring position for a team that has been held back by injuries since spring training.

“It’s like I always say: Just stay in the rearview mirror,” Baker said. “You don’t want to be over the crest of the hill and out of sight.

“We are in the thick of things. Let’s see where we are at the end.”

The Yankees are in a similar spot, staying right behind Boston in the AL East despite a lot of injuries. The rainout gave them one night to rest, but set up a tough day ahead.

“We’ll have some guys that are going to have to play a doubleheader tomorrow, but we get Thursday off and we get Monday off,” manager Joe Girardi said. “That should help.”

It was the second game postponed by rain at Great American Ball Park this season. The Reds have already made up their May 2 washed-out game against Houston. It’s the fourth rainout for the Yankees, who still have to make up the other three games.

Both teams stayed on schedule with their starters. New York’s Brian Gordon and Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto were scheduled to face each other on Tuesday, but will go in the makeup game on Wednesday night. Freddy Garcia and Mike Leake will start the day game as planned.

Cueto was scratched from his scheduled start in the series opener because of a stiff neck. Baker decided to let him pitch the makeup game at night, giving him a little extra time to get ready.

“Johnny feels better pitching at night, and the extra hours might be good for his neck situation,” Baker said.

Cueto and starter Homer Bailey have been trying to get on a good streak since they hurt their shoulders during spring training. Cueto has been one of the Reds’ best pitchers lately, giving up only three earned runs in three June starts. Another injury — the stiff neck — got in the way.

“We’re treading water and as soon as it looks like we’re going to start swimming, we’re back to treading water,” Baker said.

Despite injuries to their rotation and their everyday lineup, the Yankees have won nine of 11 and moved a season-high 13 games over .500. Several players are pulling through injuries, including Alex Rodriguez, who has a sore left shoulder.

Girardi had been planning to give Rodriguez the day off on Wednesday, before the rainout change things. He’ll likely miss one of the doubleheader games, perhaps pinch-hitting in the other.

Since the game is in a National League park, the Yankees won’t be able to use a designated hitter.

“It makes it tough to play Alex two games,” Girardi said. “I’ll have to talk to him. You might DH a guy in the second game that played in the first game, but you can’t do that (here). So his DH might in a sense be one pinch-hit appearance.”

The night game will be the featured event for New York — a chance to see if their journeyman starter can be a star again.

The Yankees signed Gordon out of Philadelphia’s farm system to fill out their depleted rotation temporarily. The 32-year-old converted outfielder made his Yankees debut on June 16, going 5 1-3 innings in a 3-2 win over Texas in 12 innings.

Gordon showed a lot of poise under pressure, giving up two runs and seven hits. The debut was so good that the Yankees have started looking at him as potentially more than just a temp.

“It appears that he knows how to pitch,” Girardi said. “Whatever he can do to help us, we’ll take. I think he can contribute here. The big key for him, like any pitcher, is to stay healthy. Right now, he looks good.”

Notes: It was only the fifth postponement in nine seasons at Great American. … Yankees SS Derek Jeter worked out at the team’s spring complex in Tampa again. He went on the DL last Tuesday with a strained calf. Girardi said he might play at least one game in the minors before returning. “You may want him to go through a game and see how it feels and how he bounces back the next day,” Girardi said. “The thing you’d hate is if he’d come back, play a game and have to take a couple of days off. So it’s something we’ll have to think about.” … Girardi was going to start Ramiro Pena at SS on Tuesday, giving Eduardo Nunez a day off.