On the back of their ace, the Cincinnati Reds took the opener of a day-night doubleheader on Thursday afternoon as they dominated the San Diego Padres by a final of 5-0.
From the first batter of the game, to the last, the story of the contest was Johnny Cueto. The pride of San Pedro de Macoris has blossomed not only into the best pitcher the Reds have had in the past few decades, but one of the most dominant pitchers in all of baseball.
Going the distance, Cueto allowed only three hits and two walks while striking out eight against the Padres. Thursday’s complete game was his third of the season, but the second of the shutout variety. Oddly enough, his other complete game shutout at home came against the Pittsburgh Pirates on a Thursday afternoon.
Were it not for the two walks, Cueto would have faced the minimum batters necessary for a complete game. Rolling up two double plays and a runner caught stealing, the Padres only managed to finagle a baserunner over to second base in the game’s waning moment as Will Venable snuck over on defensive indifference.
Clearly not bothered by the rainout on Wednesday evening, Cueto proved once again why he is cannot miss action every single time he takes to the hill.
In order for Cueto’s starts to churn out wins, the Reds offense has to come to life. While it may have been a slow process during the first part of the doubleheader, the bats got it going.
Every member of the starting lineup cranked out at least one hit, with the team going for 14 in total. The leading hit man on the night was eighth place hitting shortstop Zack Cozart who went 3-for-4 with two runners driven in and a run scored. As has been iterated on multiple occasions, anything that Cozart gives with his bat is a bonus.
Not once during the entire game did the Reds go down in order.
After getting the leadoff man on in both the third and fourth, the Reds failed to bring a run across. It seemed destined to be more of the same in the fifth when Johnny Cueto could not bunt the runner over and Skip Schumaker strolled in with two outs. However, after a Schumaker base hit, Brandon Phillips continued his meteoric tear, lifting a change up into the seats above the scoreboard in left field. On Phillips’ third blast of the season, the Reds took a 3-0 lead that they would not relinquish.
With Ryan Ludwick leading off the sixth with a single, the Reds had gotten the leadoff man on for the fourth consecutive inning. After Brayan Pena missed a two-run home run by not more than a few feet, Cozart brought them both home with a grounder up the middle that scooted past a drawn-in infield.
Five runs were more than enough for Cueto this afternoon, and surely, Cueto wishes the bats would save some power for the next time he takes to the hill in Washington.
Even with Cueto’s sensational start in the opener of the doubleheader, should the Reds not be able to pull out the nightcap, the mood on the trip over to Philadelphia may be quite subdued.