Votto, Reds look to ground Cardinals again

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With a league-leading 35 doubles, Reds All-Star Joey Votto is on pace to become the seventh player to hit 60 two-baggers in a season.The Reds and Cardinals meet for the ninth time this season (8 ET on ESPN) with Cincinnati trying to sweep St. Louis for the first time since May 2011. If the Reds are to do that, they'll need a quality start from Homer Bailey. Bailey, who is replacing originally scheduled starter Johnny Cueto, is just 1-4 with a 5.86 ERA at home this season. That’s the highest home ERA in the NL this season. Twelve of the 16 home runs he’s allowed have come at home. Bailey's last win at the Great American Ball Park was nearly two months ago when he beat the Braves.

Despite Cueto being replaced, the Reds have still only used five starting pitchers this season. Only the Marlins have also only used five. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us the Reds’ 29 players used and 20 different starters are both the fewest for any club in the majors this year.

Cardinals notes

The Cardinals have struggled against the league's better teams this season going 16-25 against teams with a .500 or better win pct and 30-17 against teams with losing records. They won three of the first four games vs the Reds this season, but have lost three of the last four. St. Louis has not been swept since May 18-20 vs the Dodgers and the final game of that series was also on Sunday Night Baseball.

Despite being just four games over .500 heading into Sunday's game, the Cardinals offense hasn’t missed a beat without Albert Pujols.

Cardinals Offense

Last 2 Seasons

Jake Westbrook takes the mound for the Cardinals looking to improve to 2-0 vs the Reds this season. In his last outing against Cincinnati back in April, Westbrook went seven innings allowing just one unearned run for his first win.

Westbrook has the second-highest groundball percentage (60%) among NL starters and the third highest percentage of pitches down in or below the strike zone (53%) in the NL this season.

Reds notes

Joey Votto has been a big reason for the Reds' success. Since 2010, Votto ranks in the top three in the NL in several major categories.

Joey Votto NL Ranks Since 2010

Votto is on pace for 65 doubles. Earl Webb holds the single-season record with 67. Votto led the NL with 40 doubles in 2011. He’s already five shy of that total.

Even if he doesn’t get to 67, Votto could become just the seventh player to hit 60 doubles in a season, and the first since Charlie Gehringer and Joe Medwick in 1936.

The Reds need more production from the top of their order. Their leadoff hitters have a combined batting average of .200 and a .244 on-base percentage, which ranks last in the NL. They are also near the bottom in slugging percentage, runs and walks.