Determined to change their losing culture, the Cincinnati Reds replaced their general manager on Wednesday. Hours later, they suffered their ninth loss in 12 games.
The Reds look for better results in their second game of Walt Jocketty's tenure as GM on Thursday when they close a two-game series against the streaking Houston Astros at Great American Ball Park.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Cincinnati -164 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 50% of bets for this game have been placed on Houston +164 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Off to their worst start in five years, the Reds (9-13) fired Wayne Krivsky on Wednesday and replaced him with Jocketty, who built consistent winners during 10 seasons running the Oakland Athletics and 13 with the St. Louis Cardinals.
Jocketty is the fourth general manager in six years for a team that has suffered through seven straight losing seasons. The Reds have been through four managers (plus an interim manager) and two owners since 2003, when they moved into Great American Ball Park.
"We've just come to a point where we're not going to lose anymore," Reds owner Bob Castellini said.
Jocketty sounds optimistic about achieving that goal.
"I'm charged up and ready to go," he said. "I think this organization is going in the right direction."
That hasn't appeared to be the case lately, as the Reds are also 4-9 against NL Central rivals, including the Astros (10-12). Cincinnati fell to 0-8 in series openers with its 9-3 loss to Houston on Wednesday night.
That win was a season-high fourth straight for the Astros, who are averaging 9.0 runs and batting .352 during the streak after averaging 3.7 runs and hitting .228 in their first 18 games.
"You've just got to have good at-bats," said Astros outfielder Darin Erstad, who had one of the Astros' six two-out hits in their seven-run fourth inning Wednesday. "When you have good at-bats guy after guy, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team. We've been doing a good job of that."
The Astros will try to maintain their offensive surge against Reds starter Johnny Cueto (1-1, 3.42 ERA). The right-hander dazzled in his major-league debut April 3, but is still looking for his first win since then.
Cueto held Milwaukee to three runs and five hits in seven innings of his last outing on Saturday, but left without a decision in Cincinnati's 5-3, 10-inning loss. He has received only eight runs of support in 26 1-3 innings spanning four starts.
Cueto will likely face Jack Cassel, whom the Astros plan to call up from Triple-A Round Rock to take the place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez in this game. Cassel went 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts in the minors, and was 1-1 with a 3.97 ERA in four starts and six overall appearances with San Diego in 2007.
The right-hander made his major league debut on Aug. 10 against the Reds, giving up two runs and two hits in three innings.
Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. hit his fourth home run of the season Wednesday to pull within three of becoming the sixth player in major league history to reach 600. Only Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa have reached that milestone.
Since the beginning of 2007, Griffey is batting .357 (15-for-42) with five home runs and 11 RBIs in 12 games against the Astros.