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Reds-Indians Battle For Ohio Looks Prime To Boil Over
by Robb Hoff
June 17, 2012
It's no secret that Reds manager Dusty Baker and Indians pitcher Derek Lowe dislike one another. That venom surfaced Wednesday when Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos dusted Lowe with a tight 96-mile-an-hour heater that was apparently premeditated payback by Baker for Lowe's plunking of Reds first baseman Joey Votto in 2009.
Baker's waggle of his finger from the Reds dugout after the brush-back pitch was a reminder to Lowe of his past transgression. That gesture in turn spurred Lowe to retaliate with a two-seamer that tailed into the hands of Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips. It also prompted the home plate umpire to formally warn both benches.
Lowe won't be batting when he takes the bump for the Tribe once again against the Reds on Monday because the designated hitter rule will be in play at the American League park, but expect this curious animosity to boil over onto the field.
The Indians were swept by the Reds in Cincinnati last week and are clearly starting to fade once again after a strong start to a season under the uneventful leadership of manager Manny Acta, who has to be desperate for some spark to re-ignite his team and preserve his job .
Also, the 39-year-old Lowe is on his last leg -- if not his last season -- as a big league pitcher. He would like nothing more than to go out with a bang, and Monday's rematch with Baker's Reds is the perfect opportunity, especially considering the public barbs that he and Baker have traded over Lowe's problems with alcohol.
So don't be surprised if Lowe headhunts a Reds hitter midway into the game when Lowe will start to wear down. Phillips is the easy target, considering the comments he has made about his time with the Indians before they traded the All-Star Gold Glover to the Reds for a song and dance.
But don't be shocked if Lowe goes after Votto again -- high and as hard as he can throw. Now that Votto's contract value is right at a quarter of a billion dollars, you can bet a C-note that the benches will empty and the 63-year-old Baker himself will be leading the charge to get a swat at Lowe's chops.