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Leake faces Bucs on Opening Night

Jim Walker

jim.walker@irontontribune.com

 

CINCINNATI — From Opening Day to Opening Night, it’s all a celebration for the Cincinnati Reds.

Now, if they can just make it a real celebration with another win.

Coming off a 5-2 Opening Day win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Reds will look to make it two-for-two as the teams meet at 7:10 p.m. today.

The Reds will go with Mike Leake who was 11-13 last season when he recorded career highs in starts (33), strikeouts (164) and innings pitched (214.1).

Pittsburgh will counter with Gerrit Cole who faced the Reds on the final day of last season and struck out 12 while allowing four hits over seven innings.

Leake hasn’t lost to the Pirates since May 12, 2012. Since then he is 5-0 with a 3.42 earned run average in the last 13 games against them.

He was 1-0 with a 3.21 ERA in five starts last year against the Pirates. The Reds lost all four of his no-decisions.

One thing that caught everyone’s eye on Monday was the placement of second baseman Brandon Phillips in the No. 7 spot of the Reds’ lineup.

Phillips had hit in the one through five spots most of his career with the Reds. He has hit in the seventh spot 70 times with the Reds with 66 of those coming in his first year with the Reds in 2006.

But manager Bryan Price said he wanted an impact player in the seventh hole.

“We talked about what our expectations are of each other and we pride ourselves on playing selfless baseball,” said Price. “Brandon is a guy that loves responsibility and not just offensively but also defensively. He prides himself on being an outstanding player.

“I think he also realizes there’s going to be a lot of opportunities to drive in runs in that seven hole and he also understands and appreciates the need to be impactful offensively throughout the entirety of the lineup.”

Price said shortstop Zack Cozart hit well during the spring and his presence in the eighth spot will benefit Phillips.

Ohio State Buckeyes’ head coach Urban Meyer and members of the team will be throwing out simultaneous ceremonial first pitches as part of the festivities.

The national championship trophy will be on display in the Kroger Fan Zone throughout the game and Brutus Buckeye will participate in activities around the ballpark.

Opening Day starter Johnny Cueto will receive his 2014 Wilson’s Defensive Player of the Year before the game as well as his MLB.com Bounceback Player of the Year honor.

On Wednesday, the newly acquired Anthony DeSclafani will make his Reds’ debut against the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett is a 12:35 p.m. start.