The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game
Johnny Cueto was filthy delicious today, mixing a precision fastball with his goofy-good changeup to shut down the Pittsburgh Pirates in the series' rubber match. Big Corcino tossed a complete game 3 hitter, struck out a career high 12 batters, walked nobody, and did it all in an efficient 107 pitches. The hardest hit ball of the game was an Andrew McCutchen double, and even that was a grounder down the LF line that wasn't especially smashed, and the other two hits allowed were of the infield variety. Cueto single handedly cost LaRosa's a pile of pizza, so go celebrate with some greasy cheese, Cincinnati Reds fans.
Johnny Cueto has been the best pitcher in the National League so far this year. That sentence needs no qualifier.
Honorable Mentions are due to: Joey Votto, who smashed another dinger, and is beginning to look a lot like the best number 2 hitter in the National League; Billy Hamilton, who went 1 for 3 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and a pair of stolen bases; Brayan Pena, who went 2 for 4 with a double and an RBI; and Chris Heisey, who doubled, went first-to-third aggressively, and was hit by a pitch.
- Hamilton's speed and Francisco Liriano's early command issues combined to start a fracas on the basepaths in Bottom of the 1st. Hamilton led off with a walk, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and after Liriano walked Votto, Hamilton scored on yet another wild pitch. Reds led, 1-0.
- Both pitchers held their opposing bats at bay until the Reds finally broke through in the Bottom of the 7th. Cueto, after being called out on technicalities during failed bunt attempts in each of his first two PAs, hit an unlikely single, Hamilton made it to first on a fielder's choice that saw Cueto out at second, and Votto then smashed a HR just under the smoke stacks in right-center. It was the first HR Liriano had allowed to a LH hitter since Prometheus brought fire to mankind. Reds led, 3-0.
- The Reds got shifty against reliever Stolmy Pimentel in the Bottom of the 8th. Heisey was hit by a pitch with one out, Ryan Ludwick singled behind him (and gave way to pinch-runner Roger Bernadina), and Heisey - who had gone to third on Luddy's single - scored when Pena hit a liner over Travis Snider's head in RF (that he badly misplayed). Bernadina ended up on third, and when Zack Cozart hit a grounder later in the inning, Bernadina was thrown out at home on a play that appeard to have the Pirates' catcher blocking the plate which, as you may remember, is officially a no-no in baseball these days. The play was reviewed, the catcher was clearly in the baseline before catching the ball, but the out call was upheld for some reason. The run didn't matter, of course, but it would be nice to actually have some sort of consistency in the umpiring so we could used to the new rules. Whatever. Cueto plowed through the Top of the 9th, everybody hugged, and that was that. Reds win, 4-0!
- Do ya think Cueto had last year's one game playoff disappointment on his mind during the lead up to today's game?
- Brayan Pena is now hitting .320/.414/.440 on the season, and that kind of slouching is dragging down the Reds' overall catching numbers. The boys behind the plate entered today's game having hit .367/.429/.653 on the season, and now I need a smoke and a cold shower.
- Cozart went 1 for 4, which got his average for the season over .100 (.109, officially)! His slugging percentage is still so low (.152) that I'm pretty sure he's managed to get about 5 half-singles so far this year.
- The Reds have an off day tomorrow before heading out on a 10 game road trip. They'll start out in the Windy City with three games against the Chicago Cubs, head to Pittsburgh for four, and then finish up against the Atlanta Braves for three. Friday's game in Wrigley will start at 2:20 PM EST, with Alfredo Simon starting against Jeff Samardzija.