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Cueto hurls gem in thin air, yells "500." CIN 3, COL 2.

Ace went out and aced.

Doug Pensinger

The Joe Nuxhall Memorial Honorary Star of the Game

It hit me when I was writing about Walt Jocketty's dwindling contract that there may only be a handful of starts for the Cincinnati Reds left in Johnny Cueto's career.  I mean, the list of pitchers who have had at least two 5 bWAR seasons in the last three years consists of Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, Max Scherzer, Felix Hernandez...and Johnny Cueto.

Considering the armada of pitchers the Reds possess that are potential free agents after the 2015 season, it's only right to ruminate, I suppose, and there's every bit a chance that the Reds might try to trade him and cash in this winter if they feel they can't sign him long-term.  It's what happened with James Shields, for instance, as well as Jeff Samardzija and countless other recent pitchers.

So when you look at tonight's start through that lens, it shouldn't be one we overlook merely because he's done the damn thing so damn often over the last few years. That's why he's tonight's JNMHSotG, because being a player that you can count on in a season where nobody else has been able to be counted upon somehow gets some sort of weird bonus points.

2014'd, if you will.

Cueto's 27th start of the season saw him throw 8 innings of 2 run ball in the homeryist homerdom of homerisms, and he once again gave a lineup full of backups ample chance to cobble together just enough offense to get the team a win.  Cueto struck out 6, walked just 2, and needed 106 pitches to get through his 8 strong innings, and he was once again an entertainment joy to watch pitch.

Honorable Mentions are due to:  Kris Negron, who continued making a great impression on the Reds brass by having a 4 hit night and making a series of solid defensive plays; Jack Hannahan, who got a hit (a hit!); Billy Hamilton, who smacked a pair of singles in (hopefully) a severe slump-buster of a performance; and Ramon Santiago, who had a pair of hits and an RBI.

Key Plays

  • The Colorado Rockies broke the seal on things in the Bottom of the 2nd when Nolan Arenado mashed a solo dinger off Cueto that cleared the wall in LF despite coming off the bat with a near broken-bat sound.  Reds trailed, 1-0.
  • The Reds wasted little time in coming back from that, however, as they put one across in the Top of the 3rd to level things.  Cueto led off with a single to start of former Red Matt Belisle, and Billy Hamilton followed with a single of his own to put two on with none out.  Negron dropped down a bunt to move the runners over, and Cueto sauntered home on a grounder from Jay Bruce.  Game tied, 1-1.
  • Hannahan led off the Top of the 4th with a double to right-center for his 1st hit of the 2014 season, and he promptly scored on a single up the middle from Santiago to put the Reds in front, 2-1.
  • That held until the Bottom of the 6th, when Cueto finally ran into a bit of trouble thanks to a walk and a single to Justin Morneau and Arenado, respectively, with 1-out in the inning.  Corey Dickerson followed with a double to LF that scored Morneau, but Cueto managed to Tiant-wiggle out of the rest of threat.  Game tied, 2-2.
  • The Reds took the lead for good off Adam Ottavino in the Top of the 9th, and it began with a Santiago single to lead things off.  He moved to 2B on a sacrifice from Zack Cozart, and after Skip Schumaker took a pinch-hit walk, Santiago scored on a single up the middle from Negron.  Aroldis Chapman throwing fire and a great and nimble NERTY play from Brayan Pena paired to lock things up in the Bottom of the 9th, and the Reds clawed their way back to .500 once again.  Reds win, 3-2!

FanGraph Showing What a FanGraph Should Show When an Ace Pitches While Backed By a Beleaguered Offense

Source: FanGraphs

Other Notes

  • Want to know what's absolutely fascinating?  Watching other teams' TV broadcasters talk about Aroldis Chapman pitching.
  • Speaking of which, Chapman didn't strike out a batter in an appearance for the first time since the Nixon administration.
  • That no-Votto, no-Phillips, no-Frazier, no-Mesoraco lineup just scraped out a win somehow.  *You cannot predict baseball.
  • *Unless you're Don, the rebel without a blog, in which case yes, yes you can predict ball.
  • Dylan Axelrod gets to get funky on the Rockies tomorrow.  Me?  I'm excited.  I'll be there.
  • NSFW Friday jams.