The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Johnny Cueto just threw his second consecutive complete game, and it was every bit as beautiful as his first one. The fact that both came against the Pittsburgh Pirates - against whom he struggled in the OGPO last fall - only makes it that much sweeter, and his 3 hitter this evening in the ballpark in which he was so "rattled" at the end of last season was a thing of beauty. It's not as if Cueto hadn't done enough in his healthy stints to earn JNMHSotG emeritus status already, but he's well on his way to having an award named after himself, too.
Oh, yeah, he had an RBI single to his credit, too.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Billy Hamilton, who had a pair of singles and a ho-hum stolen base (with no throw); Brayan Pena, who had a near-double that drove in the first run of the game and later scored a run of his own; Zack Cozart, who doubled in a run as he continued his climb out of a miserable early-season slump; and Jay Bruce, who went 2 for 4 on the night with a run scored and an RBI.
- Both Cueto and Edinson Volquez were near perfect in their befuddlement of their opposing offenses through the first six innings of the game, but the Reds finally got to Volquez as they each got to face him a third time. In the Top of the 7th, Jay Bruce singled to lead things off, Frazier followed with one of his own, and after Bruce moved to 3B on a deep flyout from Ryan Ludwick, Pena singled to RF to plate Jay. Pena was initially called safe at 2B, but replay somehow overturned the decision despite questionable visual evidence, at best. That may well have cost the Reds a run, as Cozart followed with a double to LF, which scored Frazier. Reds led, 2-0.
- The good guys offense'd some offense again in the Top of the 8th, as Hamilton singled to lead things off, Votto singled to move Billy to 3B, and Bruce singled to score the Hamiltornado. Reds led, 3-0.
- Ditto for the Top of the 9th, though that rally came courtesy of the very bottom of the order. Pena reached on an infield single (after attempting to bunt twice to beat a shift), and he then stole 2B. A Cozart grounder moved him to 3B, and Cueto then hit a liner to RF to bring NERTS in. Reds led, 4-0.
- Cueto's scoreless innings streak came to an end in the Bottom of the 9th thanks to - who else - Andrew McCutchen, who launched an opposite field solo HR akin to the one he hit off Manny Parra last night. No matter, however, as Cueto buckled down to finish off the Pirates for his second consecutive complete game. Reds win, 4-1!
- I have no words to describe how amazing Johnny Cueto has been so far this season. It's as if he followed himself on FanGraphs the last few years, saw how he was being docked for not striking out more batters, and decided to do that - along with all the everything else he does phenomenally - too.
- Jay Bruce has an .817 OPS and is on pace to drive in 97 runs through this very, very early part of the season. Through his career, he has an .812 OPS and has averaged just slightly under 81 RBI per season. After Bruce struck out in the Top of the 2nd, Marty said, roughly, that he wished Jay would "get it going." I really need to make that trip to Target for wall-throwing materials.
- Cueto is now sporting a season ERA (1.38) and WHIP (0.77) that would make even an in-prime Mariano Rivera jealous, and Cueto is his own closer.