Mike Leake made his final start of the month of June last night in San Francisco, and he went out with a bang.
Leake earned the win in his first career complete game, scattering nine hits and striking out four. Yes, although he was at 101 pitches through eight innings, Dusty Baker stuck with Leake, unlike his previous start, and he continued to stick with Leake even after allowing a one-out home run to Pablo Sandoval.
Leake went toe-to-toe with Giants ace Matt Cain, a candidate to start the All-Star game, and out-dueled one of the best pitchers in the National League. He even had two hits at the plate off Cain, including his second home run of the season, to raise his batting average to .357.
It was a fine way to end a spectacular month for Leake, but hopefully his run of success is just beginning. In six June starts, Leake was 2-0 with a 2.55 earned run average. He struck out 31 batters and walked only seven. Four of his six starts were quality.
Just over a month and a half ago, Leake allowed six earned runs in three innings in a loss to the Washington Nationals. His ERA after that game was at 7.11, and virtually everyone was calling for his demotion. Leake has rewarded their patience with a dramatic turnaround. He has been trending positively in nearly every statistic each month.
Suddenly, Leake may be the second-best starter on the Reds staff. He trails only Johnny Cueto in ERA. In fact, his numbers are nearly identical to Bronson Arroyo’s. If Leake continues to improve and pitch well, and Mat Latos can regress back to his career statistics, the Reds will have a big second half.
Other quick notes:
Jay Bruce was the offensive hero, as he was 4-for-4 with two doubles and three RBI. He was roping solid line drives.
Ryan Ludwick’s average has been steadily climbing. He has hit .263 in June to raise his average to .230. He is quietly putting together a nice season.
Something needs to be done about Scott Rolen. While many were dreading his return, I held out hope that he might at least be somewhat productive offensively. His defense is always solid. He had a few good games right after he came back, but he just looks bad at the plate. It’s hard to watch. He hasn’t had a hit in a week, and has gone 0-for-15 in that span with just one walk and eight strikeouts. Even when he was getting hits before that, they were almost all the other way. He looks late on every swing.
Before the series started, if I had to pick one game that the Reds were most likely to lose, last night’s probably would have been it. It was nice to see Leake dominate. Today, Mat Latos pitches for the first time since a complete game win of his own.