Scott Rolen(notes) is a big reason why the Cincinnati Reds are leading the NL Central this late in a season for the first time in 11 years. That should come as no surprise to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Rolen will try to continue his hot hitting as the Reds look to create some breathing room atop the division when they face the Phillies on Tuesday night.
Rolen leads the Reds (43-34) with 17 homers and 53 RBIs, while ranking third with a .301 average. The third baseman’s success has been key to Cincinnati being atop the Central at this point in a season for the first time since 1999.
The club’s lead is a small one, as the Reds are one-half game ahead of St. Louis.
Rolen helped the Reds stay in first Monday, connecting for his 300th homer to power a 7-3 win over Philadelphia (40-34) in the opener of this three-game set.
“I actually wanted to do it (Sunday) with my parents celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary,” said Rolen, who hit 150 homers with the Phillies from 1996-2002. “With my whole family in town, I thought it’d be great. But I guess it goes to show you that when you try to force something, it usually doesn’t work out.”
Rolen, the 1997 NL Rookie of the Year with Philadelphia, has gone 8 for 23 with three homers and eight RBIs over the last seven games. He has thrived against his former club, going 10 for 22 with two homers and eight RBIs in six meetings.
Rolen is not the only Reds player that has been hot, as Joey Votto(notes) has reached base in 36 consecutive games after collecting three hits Monday. It’s the longest such run for a Cincinnati player since Pete Rose did it 48 games in a row in 1978.
“We knew we were going to do that with him,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We made a promise to ourselves.”
Leake threw 96 pitches in his most recent outing June 21, yielding one run in six innings of a 6-4, 10-inning win at Oakland. He has gone 0-1 with a 6.06 ERA in his last three starts.
Blanton’s two straight victories have come after he went 1-5 with a 7.28 ERA in his first eight starts. He posted a 3.95 ERA in the two wins.
“I changed some things mechanically and am keeping the ball down more,” Blanton said. “I just want to keep progressing with every start.”
His most recent outing was his longest of 2010 and was stopped only by the weather. Blanton yielded three runs and struck out a season-high eight in 7 2-3 innings Thursday, departing after a thunderstorm forced a lengthy delay in a 12-3 win over Cleveland.
He’ll try to carry his strong pitching to the road, where he is 1-3 with a 9.27 ERA.
Blanton has won both of his starts against the Reds with a 4.15 ERA. He beat them 12-5 at Great American Ball Park on May 21, 2009, pitching five innings and giving up five runs.