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A Tale Of Two Aaron's As Tribe Takes On Cincinnati Tonight

(Sports Network) - A couple of guys named Aaron take the mound tonight when the struggling Cleveland Indians meet the surprising Cincinnati Reds in the opener of a three-game all-Ohio interleague series at Great American Ball Park.

The Reds, who won two of three when the teams met at Cleveland's Progressive Field earlier this season, are second in the National League's Central Division and trail St. Louis by a half-game as the season nears its midway point.

Cincinnati hasn't finished above .500 since 2000 and hasn't reached the postseason since 1995.

Meanwhile, Cleveland, which was a game away from reaching the World Series as recently as 2007, is dead last in the American League Central and possesses the third-worst record in the majors behind only Baltimore and Pittsburgh.

The Indians send 25-year-old lefty Aaron Laffey to the mound for his first starting assignment of the season after 20 consecutive relief outings.

Laffey, who made 19 starts in 25 outings for Cleveland last season, takes the rotation slot previously occupied by David Huff, who was sent to Triple-A Columbus after recording just one win in his last 11 starts.

Laffey's most-recent appearance in the big leagues came May 29 at Yankee Stadium in New York, when he tossed 1 1/3 innings of relief and was raked for two hits and six runs in a game the Indians eventually won, 13-11.

He went down to Columbus himself after that performance and was 0-1 with a 3.98 ERA in four minor-league starts.

The Maryland native has faced the Reds three times in his career - starting once - and is 0-3 with an 11.05 ERA in 7 1/3 innings.

Cincinnati offers up veteran righty Aaron Harang, who'll make his 10th career start against the Indians in his 234th career major-league appearance.

The 32-year-old Californian is 4-4 in the nine previous starts versus Cleveland, posting a respectable 2.84 ERA with 46 strikeouts across 57 innings of work.

He's lost his two most-recent outings in 2010, however, dropping a 12-0 decision to the Los Angeles Dodgers and a 1-0 verdict to Seattle while combining to allow 10 hits and six runs in 10 1/3 innings.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.