Kyle Lohse looked outstanding on opening day for the Cardinals when he took a no hitter into the eighth inning, while Mike Leake is looking to build on a strong second half for the Reds last season. Go ‘under’ on Tuesday.

Look for a relatively low scoring game in a National League Central battle Tuesday night when Kyle Lohse and the St. Louis Cardinals (4-1 overall, 4-1 away) take on Mike Leake and the Cincinnati Reds (2-2 overall, 2-2 home) in the second game of a three-game series from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati, OH at 7:10 ET.

The posted total at 5 Dimes is 9 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -115.

Mike LeakeThe Cardinals took the series opener 7-1 here last night, as Jake Westbrook allowed only three hits in seven innings while the Cardinals pounded out nine hits vs. Homer Bailey and three relievers. That game was a microcosm of how these offenses have done this year as St. Louis is batting .312 as a team after pounding on the Milwaukee Brewers and Miami Marlins prior to last night while Cincinnati is hitting just .213 as a team.

Lohse is coming off of a solid campaign for the defending World Champions, as he actually led the Cardinals in wins while going 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a nice 1.17 WHIP in 188.1 innings. That marked the first year where Lohse was healthy for a full season since his first year in St. Louis when he went 15-6 in 2008, and the results spoke for themselves. 

Lohse certainly seemed healthy on Opening Night this season as he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning vs. the Marlins. He ended up allowing one run and two hits in 7.2 innings without issuing a single walk. Lohse has also pitched well vs. Cincinnati, tossing Quality Starts in each of his last three outings against them with the most recent coming last season here in Great American Ball Pack, where he allowed just two runs on seven hits in six innings. 

Given how Lohse looked in the opener and how the Cincinnati offense has performed so far, Lohse should do his part in keeping this game ‘under’ on the MLB odds

Now there is no doubt that the St. Louis offense has been impressive even with Albert Pujolsnow playing for the Angels, and Cincinnati’s team ERA of 4.75 could be cause for concern, but we feel that Leake is quite capable of stopping the bleeding in his first appearance of the year tonight. 

Leake showed flashes of brilliance when he broke into the majors two years ago and the Reds were expecting big things from him last year. However, while he was 8-4 before the All-Star break last year, he was maddeningly inconsistent with a 4.28 ERA, resulting in brief sprints in both the bullpen and the minor leagues. 

However, Leake looked like what the Reds expected him to be once he retuned to the majors, as he had a 3.33 ERA and a very good 1.14 WHIP in 73 innings covering 11 starts after the break. Ironically, he went just 4-5 in those starts despite pitching considerably better than he did while winning games earlier in the year! 

That actually makes sense though when you consider that the Cincinnati offense was one of the best in baseball over the first half of last year and one of the worst in the second half. The Reds look to have carried that lousy offensive form into this year, raising the real possibility of Leake again pitching well tonight and ending up with nothing to show for it, as oftentimes happened in the second half of 2011. 

That combination is very conducive to an ‘under’ though, and as you might expect, only two of Leake’s 11 starts after the All-Star break last season saw more than nine total runs scored. Given the raging form that his mound opponent Lohse appears to be in, the ‘under’ is the direction we are looking to Tuesday night.

MLB Pick: Cardinals, Reds ‘under’ 9 (-115)