Interesting that the Reds, faced with the fact that their next loss guarantees their 9th straight losing season, are going up against one of the two teams in Major League baseball with a longer consecutive losing seasons streak. With 12 games left, it's a virtual lock that the Reds will clinch another losing season sometime in the next two weeks. The last time the organization won 12 games in a row in a single season was 1957, and they've managed just 3 other double-digit win streaks since then (1975, 1998, 1999). Needless to say, the odds are against them, but hope (for a .500 season) springs eternal, right?
Do you consider Johnny Cueto's season this year to have been a success or a failure? On the one hand, he really looked like something special in his first 13 starts, averaging nearly 7 innings a start and posting a 2.17 ERA. On the other hand, starts 14 through 24 were disastrous. He averaged less than 5 innings a start and put up a puke-worthy 8.88 ERA. At that point he went on the DL with whatever it was they made up to get him some rest. Since coming back, he's been good - 16 IP in 3 starts, 17 strikeouts, 6 walks, 2.76 ERA - but he hasn't gone deep into a game. This could be managements doing as his pitch counts haven't been great, but they also haven't been so bad that he needed to be pulled. All in all, I'd say this was a good maturation year for Cueto. He's still got a couple of starts left, so he could theoretically end up with an ERA in the low 4s. Given how terrible he was mid-season, that might be good enough to hang your hat on.
Expect the Pirates to be distracted by all of their hosting duties for the G20 summit. I'm not sure what international protocol requires, but I'd guess there is some basic responsibilities for the local base ball club written into bylaws for the conference. I figure Zach Duke will be more focused on picking out the perfect pierogi restaurant for his evening out with Gordon Brown than he will be on facing the Reds tonight. The offense should strike early and often.