The Prodigal Cueto. Reds 6, Astros 1.

Cuetotally Amazing! - Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Ace Returns.

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

Johnny Cueto made his return to the Reds' rotation tonight, and he picked up right where he'd left off before hitting the DL at the end of June.  Cueto motored through 5 effective innings, scattering 5 hits, a single walk, and 5 strikeouts en route to shutting out the Astros in his 82 pitch evening.

Yes, it was the Houston Astros, owners of the worst record in all of baseball.  And no,  there's no guarantee that Cueto is back completely from the injuries that have repeatedly sidelined him over the last two seasons.  However, Cueto's modified Tiant-turn was still effective, he managed to touch 95 mph on his fastball, and he located his pitches effectively enough to give us all hope that he may well be back in a capacity capable of being playoff caliber.

Hoo wee, that's exciting.

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Zack Cozart, whose 2 for 4 evening featured a HR, 4 RBI, and a lot of MVP/GG action; Jay Bruce, who went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and a walk; Logan Ondrusek, who tossed a spotless 9th inning in just 6 pitches; and Joey Votto, who...yawn...went 2 for 4 with a walk.

Key Plays

  • Zack Cozart broke the seal on the renewal of the former NL Central rivalry between the Reds and Astros in the Top of the 2nd.  Jay Bruce led off the inning with a single, stole second after consecutive strikeouts from Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier, and scored when Cozart launched a moonshot homer into the Crawford Boxes in LF.  Reds led, 2-0.
  • Cozart then played a starring role in "Straw That Broke the Camel's Back" in the Top of the 4th.  Joey Votto led off with a single, Jay Bruce and Ryan Ludwick followed with walks, and after Frazier struck out, Cozart singled to score both Votto and Bruce.  Unfortunately for the rally's sake, Ludwick was TOOTBLAN'd, and the Reds were forced to settle for 2.  Reds led, 4-0.
  • The Reds offense pulled out their oil rag and polished their bowling ball for the final time in the Top of the 5th.  Shin-Soo Choo Sobchak'd a walk with one out and moved to 2B when BP Donnie'd a single to LF.  Votto then drew a Nancy Sinatra to load the bases, and Jay Bruce followed by Nihil'ating a single through the middle to drive in two runs that meant nothing to the few Astro fans in attendance.  Reds led, 6-0.
  • Some dude something a something off Alfredo Simon in the Bottom of the 6th, and after other random guy did something that won't keep him in the majors long-term, some other guy made enough contact to make a scorekeeper do something.  Fortunately for the good guys, Simon buckled down, got outs, and handed things over to Ondrusek, who did the same.  Reds win, 6-1!

FanGraph Section that Says "Astros" on it and Yawwwwwwnnnnn...


Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Dang, I miss playing the Astros 15-18 times a season.
  • Following this evening, Zack Cozart is hitting .253/.283/.377 with 11 HR, 59 RBI, 0 SB, 0 CS, and 41 XBH in 530 AB.  Andrelton Simmons is hitting .246/.294/.387 with 15 HR, 52 RBI, 5 SB, 5 CS, and 44 XBH in 561 AB.  Baseball Reference has Simmons worth 6.2 WAR on the season and Zack Cozart worth 1.4 WAR.  Now, I don't know if Simmons is playing both SS and 3B at the same time or not, but there's absolutely, positively, zero way Simmons has been that much more valuable than Cozart this season.  I like WAR.  I respect WAR.  I think WAR is a statistical tool that is valuable in certain arenas.  There is no possible way that Simmons' defense alone would have added nearly 5 wins to this Reds team.  Use this exercise to attempt to remember each and every ball that Cozart didn't get to.
  • WOOOOO?  Wu!
  • More WOOOOO?  Moar Wu!
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