Cleveland (36-43) at Cincinnati (44-37)

Fair Currently: Cincinnati, OH
Temp: 78° F
  • Game info: 1:15 pm EDT Sun Jul 2, 2006
  • TV: STO, FSOH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Fourth of July is two days away, but the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds have already provided plenty of fireworks.

On Sunday at Great American Ball Park, the Indians and Reds wrap up a three-game weekend series which has been loaded with offense.

In the first two games, the two Ohio clubs have combined for 36 runs and 57 hits, nine of them homers including two grand slams. Eighteen of the 36 runs have been scored in the seventh inning or later.

“I don’t expect it,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “I don’t like it. You don’t want to see that many runs put up on the scoreboard at this level—or at any level, as far as I’m concerned.”

After being scratched from Cleveland’s starting lineup with a sore elbow, Travis Hafner hit a pinch-hit grand slam in the fifth inning Saturday, helping lift the Indians (36-43) to a 12-7 win.

With his fourth grand slam of the season, Hafner tied the franchise record set by Al Rosen in 1951.

“It’s just purely coincidence,” said Hafner, who is 6-for-9 with the bases loaded this season. “You can go several years without hitting a grand slam. I don’t think you get up that much with the bases loaded. It’s a great thing, but I couldn’t see myself doing that many.”

Reds slugger Adam Dunn’s game-ending grand slam gave Cincinnati a 9-8 victory in Friday’s series opener. Dunn did not homer Saturday, but Austin Kearns homered for the second consecutive game, Ken Griffey Jr. connected for the fifth time in six games and Ryan Freel added a solo shot for the Reds (44-37) in the loss.

Cincinnati set a team record for homers in a month with 47 in June—32 of them in 14 home games. Futhermore, the Reds have hit 15 homers in their first five games of a homestand which concludes with this contest.

For the finale, Cincinnati sends a pitcher who has struggled with the home run ball to the mound in Eric Milton (4-4, 5.14 ERA). The left-hander has given up five homers in 9 2-3 innings over his last two starts, reverting back to his form from last yer when he allowed a major league-high 40.

Milton matched his season high by giving up three homers to Kansas City Tuesday, finishing with six runs allowed over 5 1-3 innings but not recording a decision in the Reds’ 9-8 defeat.

“I’m concentrating so much on not giving up home runs that I end up making mistakes,” said Milton, who has yielded 13 homers overall in 11 starts this season. “I’m trying to be too perfect. Two of those homers came on sliders I was trying to bounce or keep down in the zone. It seems like the more I try to keep it down, the more I’m hanging it.”

Milton is 5-6 with a 6.12 ERA in 19 career starts against Cleveland, allowing 28 home runs in 107 1-3 innings.

The Indians counter with C.C. Sabathia (6-4, 3.86), who will try to put his inconsistency behind him. Sabathia threw eight strong innings at St. Louis on Tuesday, limiting the Cardinals to one run and five hits in Cleveland’s 3-1 win.

The left-hander had been 0-3 with a 10.24 ERA in his four previous June outings.

“I felt like a kid throwing a baseball,” said Sabathia, whose ERA is 1.00 in his wins and 8.19 in his other six starts. “I was having fun. Just to get back out there and be pitching, it felt awesome.”

Sabathia is 2-0 with a 3.14 ERA in five career starts versus the Reds.

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Starting Pitchers

C. Sabathia NYY vs. E. Milton LAD
12-11 Record 8-8
3.22 ERA 5.19
172 K 90
44 BB 42
1.17 WHIP 1.34