Scoring a whopping total of one singular run the entire series in San Diego, the Cincinnati Reds limped out of town on Wednesday afternoon following a 3-0 defeat.
It was not as much about the bats as it was the arm of Padres’ starter Tyson Ross. Ross would toss his first career complete game, it just happened to come in the shutout variety.
For fans of pitching, Wednesday was a masterful two-sided effort; for those more inclined to the booming thunder of bat meeting ball, chances are, the entire three-game series in San Diego was not much fun.
Coming into the game, Billy Hamilton led all Major League centerfielders in defensive runs saved. An astounding stat considering many pundits believed that not only would Hamilton not made an adequate centerfielder so soon in his professional career, but that come the beginning of July, the Reds would have either already found a replacement, or be in search of one.
At a park with such a spacious outfield as Petco, Hamilton can truly show off how fast he is. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the first, backup catcher Rene Rivera hit a ball off the end of his bat and flared it towards right center field. Jay Bruce gave way to a sprinting Billy Hamilton, who dove, and missed, as the ball ticked off the heal of his glove. The bases would empty, as Rivera curiously stayed on first with a three-run single.
Giving up three runs in a single start for Cueto is unchartered territory. His start on Wednesday would be only his third on the season that saw him give up three runs or more.
From that point on, Cueto would dazzle. Twirling seven innings of magnificent ball (outside of the first), the hits that Cueto did allow were not exactly hard hit. Bloops and bleeders were falling in all around him, as he would not yield another run. Come the end of the day, his ERA sat at a sterling 1.99.
Although the Padres won the series opener on Monday night with just a single hit, the Redlegs could not replicate that same strategy, even with three of their own. With Joey Votto, Devin Mesoraco, Ryan Ludwick and Skip Schumaker all taking the day off, the lineup was at much less than 100 percent behind Cueto.
Depending on the cynical opinion of each individual fan, it was either a cataclysmic collapse by the offense, or a wonderful effort from Tyson Ross. The facts are that Ross, who had 42 walks in just over 107 innings entering the game, would not walk a batter all afternoon. Two of the three hits were with two strikes in the count to Todd Frazier, the only member of the Reds to have a multi-hit night.
Totaling nine innings, Ross would punch out nine, using his devastating slider to his advantage. While not at the same extremes that Cueto faces, Ross (and the rest of the San Diego staff—Andrew Cashner in particular) suffers mightily from his offense’s lack of production behind him. With his seventh win, Ross now sits at 7-8 with an ERA under three.
On the road trip, the Cincinnati Reds went six up, and four down. For a team that struggled so mightily any time it switched to the Pacific Time Zone half a decade ago, it is still quite the accomplishment.
Most of the 2014 season has been viewed in a microscope. With the club not off to a blazing start, each game has become so vital to the overall process that perspective has been thrown out the window.
This does not mean that a sweep in San Diego is not frustrating, or demoralizing, but rather that while they bit the bullet against the Padres, they steamrolled one of the better clubs in the National League for four straight games, and took care of business in Chicago as usual.
Heading home until the All-Star Break, the Redlegs sit at 43-41. There are 11 games remaining on the homestand against three separate ball clubs. A 7-4 record over that stretch would put them at 50 wins, a number that seemed astronomical just a short time ago.
Tags: Cincinnati Reds