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Reds Vs. Pirates, 30 May 2012

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Johnny Cueto vs. A.J. Burnett, 7:05 at PNC Park in the rubber game of the three game series. Cueto owns the Pirates or at least appears to have taken out a very favorable lease. Career vs. the Pirates he's 11-3, with a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts, including a 7-1 mark at PNC. In his last five starts against the Bucs he is 3-1, with a 1.64 ERA. On May 4 at PNC, he threw a complete game, 7-hitter. He struck out four, walked none, throwing 110 pitches as the Reds won 6-1.

Fortunately AJ has been as good at PNC this year. In four starts he's 2-0, with a 1.27 ERA (28.1IP/4ER).

Jordy Mercer will get his first major league start as he takes over at SS, hitting in the #2 hole. Mercer got his feet wet last night grounding out as a pinch-hittier in the eighth inning of the Pirates 8-1 loss.

The big surprise for me is that Jose Tabata is in the lineup. In the 200 games of Clint Hurdle's tenure, the one thing that has been consistent is that lack of effort and/or hustle will not be tolerated. Tabata has already been benched once this season for not hustling down to first. Last night he clearly didn't hustle after a ball hit into the left-centerfield gap and I've also questioned his effort down the first base line on more than one occasion. Based on the reaction on twitter, I'm not alone. At this point, the injury excuse isn't a reasonable one. He was removed from a game over the weekend with leg cramps but passed his pregame on-field tests the next day and was in the lineup.

From what I've seen this year Tabata's lack of hustle well-surpasses any lack of effort I saw from Ronny Cedeno last year. Lack of effort is the thing I think the majority of fans find most unacceptable. The fact that Tabata just signed a long-term deal and is off to a terrible start means this is definitely under the microscope for the time-being.

You can hear a lot more about this and the Morton/Correia debate on today's podcast which will be up after the game or first thing tomorrow. We also preview the Brewers series.

Here's the Bucs lineup tonight:

Jose Tabata 7
Jordy Mercer 6
Andrew McCutchen 8
Pedro Alvarez 5
Neil Walker 4
Garrett Jones 9
Matt Hague 3
Rod Barajas 2
AJ Burnett 1

Joey Votto gets his first night off of the season. Should make things a little easier for the Bucs. For the Reds:

Zack Cozart 6
Drew Stubbs 8
Jay Bruce 9
Brandon Phillips 4
Chris Heisey 7
Todd Frazier 5
Mike Costanzo 3
Ryan Hanigan 2
Johnny Cueto 1