Johnny Cueto Carries Cincinnati Reds to Triumph


Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

In front of a capacity crowd on Saturday night, the Cincinnati Reds topped the Milwaukee Brewers by a final of 6-2.

Johnny Cueto was with whom the game began and where it was finished.  Doing everything from knocking in runs, to stifling Brewers bats, Cueto was a one man wrecking crew.

The only two blemishes Cueto suffered to his pristine evening came via the long ball.  Both Aramis Ramirez and Mark Reynolds got in solo home runs off the National League’s hottest pitcher, but outside of two base runners in the eighth, that is all the Brewers would get.

Key for Cueto was the neutralization of the top of the Brewers order.  The trio of Carlos Gomez, Scooter Gennett and Jonathan Lucroy, is potent and can cause disruption to any starter’s rhythm.  Not allowing any of the three men to reach base all evening, the trio went a combined 0-for-12.

While the home crowd was jubilant over Cueto’s 10-strikeout performance, an additional K would have equated free pizza.  Because, after all, who does not like free pizza? 

Picking up only his third win of the season due to a lack of consistent run support, Cueto was finally the beneficiary of the Reds offensive output.  It took a time through the order to serve as a reminder of what Yovani Gallardo was bringing to the table before the bats unleashed.

On Friday evening, batters 4-9 in the order were the cause of the Reds lack of production.  On Saturday, it was quite the opposite. 

Going 8-for-22, the bottom of the lineup drove in five runs.  Returning to full health and getting the traditional starters back in the game aided in that process.

Six straight batters reached base in the bottom of the fourth against Gallardo with three of them scoring, staking the Reds to an early 3-1 lead.  Brandon Phillips started the rally by beating the modified shift the Brewers have employed on him in the series.  From there, Ryan Ludwick picked up an RBI single and Brayan Pena followed with two driven in of his own. 

With the reckless abandon the Reds have shown on the basepaths thus far in 2014, not managing to score in the sixth inning would have been quite apropos.  Getting away with sending Ryan Ludwick during a hit and run earlier in the inning, when he froze in between third and home, it seemed luck had caught up with the Reds.  But, Johnny Cueto carried the good vibes he had going on the mound into the batter’s box and stroked an RBI single to put the Reds ahead 4-2.

Add-on continued yet again the following inning when Brandon Phillips ripped his third hit of the night, a double, to start the rally.  Two batters later, Todd Frazier brought him home for his second hit of the night.  After two wild pitches from Brewers pitcher Tyler Thornburg, Frazier slid in at home without as much as the ball put into play by a batter after him.

Making his season debut for the Reds was the newly acquired Skip Schumaker.  Injuring his shoulder diving for a fly ball in Spring Training, Schumaker pinch-ran for Ryan Ludwick in the seventh and finished the game in left field as a defensive substitute.  Should Billy Hamilton still not be ready to play by tomorrow afternoon, it becomes safe to assume Schumaker will be playing centerfield and batting leadoff. 

Also on the comeback trail is the “Cuban Missile” Aroldis Chapman.  Pitching another inning down at Dayton this afternoon, it seems Sunday’s contest will be the last the Reds will play without the aid of their flamethrowing closer. 

With the win on Saturday night, the Reds have presented themselves an opportunity to win the series Sunday afternoon.  Alfredo Simon goes in opposition of former Red Kyle Lohse, as the game gets underway at the bizarre start time of 4:10 p.m. 

Looking to follow in the footsteps of good buddy and teammate Johnny Cueto, Simon hopes to continue to watch his ERA get smaller and smaller.