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Clash of the Non-Titans: Piss-Poor D-Backs, Middling Reds Collide in Nasty Nati

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The Cincinnati Reds are the very definition of mediocre with their 37-37 record -- 17-17 on the road, 20-20 at home. Meanwhile, "humdrum," "mundane," or "dime a dozen" would be a step up for the laughable Arizona Diamondbacks, who are 30-46 and 18 sorry-ass games behind the L.A. Dodgers -- farther out in the standings than even the wretched Washington Nationals.

The non-titans clash tonight through Thursday at the Great American Ball Park in the Nasty Nati, though Dusty Baker's Reds, at least, have a dim prayer of making the playoffs (at press time, they were only 2.5 behind the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the hypercompetitive National League Central).

With the team's best hitter, first baseman Joey Votto, just returning from an extended stay on the disabled list for clinical depression/stress/panic attacks relating to his father's death last year, Cincy's been led recently by second baseman Brandon Phillips, who's on pace to whack 20-plus homers and 100-plus RBI, and right fielder Jay Bruce, who doesn't hit the ball often (his batting average is a less-than-sparkling .214), but makes the most of it when he does (his 18 homers have him sitting at eighth in the NL). Phillips and Bruce have been knocking in grizzled infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. on a regular basis; Hairston's 39 runs scored lead the team.

Pitching -- ehhh. "Average" pretty wells sums it up, with the promising second-year man Johnny Cueto (7-4, 2.86 ERA) leading an otherwise undistinguished four-man rotation that also includes Aaron Harang (5-8, 3.95), the long-maned, high-kicking chick magnet Bronson Arroyo (8-6, 5.54), and former D-Backs wunderkind Micah Owings (5-8, 4.63).

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:

Today: D-Backs ace Dan Haren (6-5, 2.25) vs. Arroyo, 4:10 p.m.

Wednesday: Arizona's Jon Garland (4-7, 5.04) vs. Cueto, 4:10 p.m.

Thursday: Snakes starter Doug Davis (3-8, 3.28) vs. Harang, 9:35 a.m.

Today's and Wednesday's games will be televised on Fox Sports Arizona; Thursday's can only be seen on MLB.TV. All three games will be broadcast on KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.dbacks.com.

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