Reds beat Dodgers, clinch National League Central

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The first division crown of 2012 has been claimed.

Mat Latos fanned seven batters over eight shutout innings and Jay Bruce hit his 34th home run of the season as the Reds rolled to an easy 6-0 victory on Saturday afternoon over the Dodgers, locking up the National League Central in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds have now won two division titles in the past three years and are currently tied with the Nationals for the most victories (92) in Major League Baseball.

They can give rest to some of their regulars and get their starting rotation lined up the way they want it over the final 10 days of the regular season. The divisional rounds begin October 6 and 7.

Cincinnati will be hoping for a long postseason run this time around. When the Reds won the NL Central in 2010, they were swept in the NLDS by the Phillies and no-hit by Roy Halladay in one of those games.

Matt Shepard to be the Tigers new full-time play-by-play guy

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Fox Sports Detroit has named Matt Shepard their new full-time play-by-play guy for Tigers games. Shepard will work with analysts Jack Morris and Kirk Gibson, who will split time.

This is the move in response to former longtime announcers Mario Impemba and Rod Allen getting suspended and later fired following an in-booth altercation in Chicago last September. The two of them, who weren’t exactly friends, reportedly fought over a chair, with conflicting reports of how serious the fight was. An anonymous witness said Allen put Impemba in a choke hold. Allen recently gave an interview in which he denied that and said it was only some pushing and shoving. Either way, it ended their 16-year team-up for Tigers games.

Shepard has worked for Fox Sports Detroit for nearly 20 years, doing fill-in play-by-play for the Tigers — he replaced Impemba for the last few weeks of last season — and for Detroit Pistons games. Gibson has been a part time analyst for the network for the past couple of seasons, splitting time with Allen. Morris has done Tigers, Blue Jays and Twins games over the years, sometimes even splitting time between the Twins and Tigers, which is rather unusual.

Shepard is pretty good at his job. While Tigers fans liked and were familiar with Impemba, there won’t be a falloff in quality. Gibson makes some good analytical points and has a surprisingly sharp and biting sense of humor about him, but his gruff and monotone delivery is not everyone’s cup of tea. You get used to it. Morris is not my cup of tea — he tends to do a lot of the “back in my day” stuff former players often do — but I’m pretty sure he could recite the dictionary on TV in Detroit and a lot of Tigers fans would tune in. Such is life.