Ohio's two baseball teams have never met in the World Series. There is, however, a trophy on the line when the Indians and Reds clash in the regular season for their annual home-and-home series.
That prize would be the Ohio Cup, which in 2008 became a regular facet of this state rivalry. The team that wins the season series is awarded the trophy. It went to Cincinnati after the inaugural season and remained there until 2011, when the Tribe claimed it for the shores of Lake Erie. Cleveland retained its grasp of the Cup after a series split last season.
On Monday afternoon, the two clubs will begin the 2013 Showdown of Ohio at Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park. A pair of right-handers will take the mound, with Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez scheduled to pitch against Cincinnati's Mike Leake.
The Indians had been one of baseball's hottest teams over the last month, but a 6-5 defeat in Boston on Sunday was their fifth in their past six games. They're still 19-9 over the last 28 games, though.
"They're believing in themselves in now. You always notice that a new manager usually gets the best out of everybody," said Reds manager Dusty Baker, referencing first-year Tribe skipper Terry Francona. "You got a change of attitude, change of scenery and they've got a very good manager."
Baker's club is enjoying plenty of success on the diamond, too. The Reds have won five out of six and 18 of their last 25. On Sunday, they lost to the Cubs in extra innings, 5-4.
Cincinnati has enjoyed a healthy boost from offseason acquisition Shin-Soo Choo, a former Indian who came to the Reds as part of a three-team deal that sent Drew Stubbs to Cleveland. Stubbs was drafted by Cincinnati in 2006 and spent four years in the Reds outfield.
Just as Stubbs' speed and glove work have benefited the Indians, Choo's bat has bolstered Cincinnati's lineup. He leads the Reds with nine home runs and also carries a .285 average with 19 RBIs.
"I had a good experience, good time playing in the Indians organization. Just to see all my teammates, pretty exciting," Choo said. "I still follow Indians stats and how they're doing.
"I think they're a better team this year, it looks like. Hopefully they keep on a roll. Not [this] week."
After Monday's matinee, the two teams will play another contest in Cincinnati on Tuesday before heading to Cleveland for a pair on Wednesday and Thursday. The Reds will need to win three of the next four to recover the Ohio Cup. Since 2008, they have the edge in the series, 17-13.
Indians: Jimenez looking to regain momentum
• Jimenez experienced a setback in his last start after posting a 3-0 record and 1.90 ERA in his previous four outings. Pitching at home against the Tigers on Wednesday, the tall right-hander took the loss after allowing six runs in four innings. Jimenez allowed seven hits while walking three and striking out three. He also beaned a batter.
"I didn't have any command of my fastball or breaking ball," Jimenez said. "I couldn't throw any of my breaking balls for a strike.
"I didn't have the same release point. I couldn't get out there with every pitch. That's why it was getting really hard to get ahead. I was falling behind in the count every single time."
In nine starts this season, Jimenez is 3-3 with a 6.04 ERA.
• Indians closer Chris Perez left in the ninth inning of Sunday's defeat in Boston. He sustained an injury while pitching to Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs and the bases full. Prior to that at-bat, Perez surrendered two runs on three walks, a single and a double. Right after Perez's departure, Tribe reliever Joe Smith gave up a game-winning two-run double to Ellsbury. The two runs that scored on the double were charged to Perez, whose ERA rose to 4.32.
Both of Perez's previous two outings were rocky as well. He blew a save by allowing two ninth-inning homers to the Mariners on May 18 and gave up a go-ahead home run to Seattle in the ninth inning two days later.
Reds: Leake trying to extend scoreless streak
• Leake has kept opponents off the scoreboard in each of his last two outings -- both wins. He threw 6 2/3 shutout innings in Miami on May 15 and tossed seven scoreless frames on Tuesday against the Mets. In those appearances, he allowed a combined 12 hits with three walks and 10 strikeouts.
"Everything seemed to work," Leake said after his win in New York. "They were pretty aggressive tonight, so I was able to locate the fastball first pitch and get some early outs. If I needed to go deep, I had some other pitches to use as well."
Through nine outings this year, Leake has a 4-2 record and 3.25 ERA.
• Both clubs are in second place in their respective divisions. Cleveland (27-22) trails Detroit by 1 1/2 games in the American League Central, while Cincinnati (31-19) is tied with Pittsburgh, a game behind St. Louis in the National League Central.
• Cleveland owns a 42-39 edge in the all-time series.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.