I'm not particuarly interested in the Pirates-Reds HBP shenanigans that have gone on over the last two seasons. It seems pretty obvious to me that the Reds are the schoolyard bully of the NL Central, particularly when it comes to Aroldis Chapman and Dusty Baker. I don't know that they're particularly far into the Pirates' heads in the way that the Brewers seemed to be until a couple of weeks ago (the Pirates are 4-3 against the Reds this year), but I think that it'd be understandable if the team was awfully frustrated after Chapman buzzed Neil Walker's skull in the ninth inning of a mostly-decided game last night.
There are, of course, two ways that the Pirates can handle this. One is to throw a baseball at Brandon Phillips or Joey Votto or Jay Bruce to show that they won't be intimidated by the Reds' shenanigans. The other is to kick the ever-loving crap out of the Reds in a baseball game, which has pretty much the same effect. I don't particularly care if the first one happens or not. If the Pirates want to go down that road tonight, so be it. I only hope that they're smart enough about it that they don't get Charlie Morton or one of their key relievers suspended for any significant amount of time. I'm more invested in the second one; the Reds are one hell of a good baseball team and they're directly competing with the Pirates for two different playoff spots. It seems to me like they're trying to flex their muscles on the pesky upstart Pirates here. If Brandon Phillips gets a fastball between the numbers tonight but the Reds win three of four games in this series, the Reds will have accomplished what they set out to do.
In any case, Charlie Morton gets his second start of 2013 tonight. I thought that his first start was just a tad more promising than most Pirate fans did because his velocity looked so good compared to the past and because his curveball seemed as wicked as it ever has. This game is going to be an interesting test for Morton because in the past, he struggled with his sinker against left-handed hitters and the Reds employ Shin-Soo Choo, Jay Bruce, and Joey Votto. Before his injury he tried to use a cutter against lefties with mixed results. He didn't throw even one cutter in his first start against the Giants last week. It's possible that he (and the coaching staff) thinks that with a 93-95 mph fastball/sinker that he'll be more effective against lefties than he was with a 90-92 mph fastball/sinker. We'll see. I could tell you that I'm nervous but kind of optimistic, but you probably already know that. That describes how I feel every time Charlie Morton has ever taken the mound.
Mat Latos pitches for the Reds tonight. There are a number of reasons to want to beat Mat Latos, including but not limited to 1.) He is pitching against the Pirates, 2.) He is a Red, 3.) I don't know him or anything but he sure does kind of seem like a bit of a jerk.
First pitch is at 7:10. Important baseball games are fun, at as far as June 18th goes, this is a pretty big one.