Dusty Baker juggles slumping Reds lineup

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Here’s a look at Dusty Baker’s new idea to break the Reds out of their offensive swoon (they’ve scored fewer runs than every team in baseball besides the Pirates):

SS Zack Cozart
CF Drew Stubbs
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
3B Scott Rolen
LF Chris Heisey
C Devin Mesoraco

I actually really like this one, expect for the odd choice to put Stubbs behind Cozart. Cozart was batting second behind Brandon Phillips and doing an outstanding job, hitting .341/.400/.561 in the early going. He’s also got that whole prototypical NL No. 2 hitter thing going on: middle infielder, makes contact, modest power, decent runner but not exactly speedy.

Stubbs is none of those things. He’s hitting .175 this season and has struck out 13 times in 40 at-bats. Stubbs, though, is an experienced leadoff hitter, and for all the grief he takes over his strikeouts, he’s scored 123 runs in 171 games there. That’s an average of .72 runs per game. To put it in perspective, Jose Reyes has averaged .71 runs per game hitting leadoff in his career. It seems to me that if you’re going to have both Cozart and Stubbs hitting at the top of the order, it’d make a lot more sense to have them the other way around.

That’s not really so important, though. That Heisey and Mesoraco are playing are better signs, and getting Rolen out of the cleanup spot should help. It’s the best lineup the Reds have used this season.

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.