Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Cueto Cuts Bucs Down To Size 4-1

It was a dark and stormy night...well, ok gray and cloudy. Edinson Volquez was facing off against his old team and Johhny Cueto returned to his wild card ballyard, so both have reason to be amped a little.

Volquez spun a 1-2-3 frame to open things, and Cueto almost matched, being dented for a two-out flare knock into right by Cutch. It wouldn't be a Red-Buc game without a HBP; Edinson bounced a curve off Todd Frazier in the second, but no damage came of it. Pittsburgh got runners to second and third with two down on a Russ Martin walk and Travis Snider single, but Volquez grounded out softly to end the frame.

The Reds got a runner aboard in the third with two outs when Billy Hamilton slapped a single to center. He stole second but got no further. The Pirates went down in order. It took Edinson eight pitches to tuck away Cincy in the fourth. Cueto was sharp, putting away the Bucs in order. Volquez ran his streak to seven straight in the fifth. Cueto faced the bottom of the order and ran his consecutive out streak to 11 Pirates.

The Reds got a runner aboard with two gone in the sixth when Joey Votto walked, but Brandon Phillips bounced the next pitch to Pedro to finish the frame. Cutch drew a two out walk, but Pedro's fly to left settled down just short of the track for the third out.

Volquez was touched up in the seventh. Jay Bruce singled, and Edinson's first mistake pitch, and 0-2 hanger, was banged up the middle by Todd Frazier. A fly moved Bruce to third and he scored on Brayan Pena's knock to right. Pena steamed into second and barely beat the throw, but came off the bag a sec; a challenge ruled him out as Mercer kept the tag on him. But #8 hitter Zack Cozart lined a double to left to make it 2-0, in another case of keeping a guy in a little too long; Clint's not had much luck with that decision recently.

Martin put the best charge of the night into a ball, but Hamilton gloved it a couple of steps shy of the 399' mark in center as Cueto had another clean inning, using just seven pitches. Tony Watson came on for the eighth, and Hamilton drilled a single to left to greet him, followed by a Votto knock to right to put runners on the corners. Phillips K'ed to give the Bucs a brief hope, but Bruce banged a single to right to make it 3-0. Stolmy Pimentel came on to put out the fire. Mercer got on via a boot to start the Bucs up, but a 4-6-3 DP and bouncer to short made the inning a quick affair.

Pena's rabbit's foot brought home another run. He hit one off Pimentel's foot, Stolmy rushed the throw and Ike couldn't come up with the short hop. Then he went to steal second, and the throw beat him again, but Neil Walker couldn't handle it. A check swing bleeder moved him to third, and then Cueto chipped a ball over the drawn in infield to plate him and make it 4-0. Cutch won a moral victory by taking a ball over the Clemente Wall to make it 4-1 in the Bucco ninth, but other than making him work hard in the final frame - he finished with 117 pitches - Cueto had another gem against the Bucs.

Alfredo Simon goes against Charlie Morton tomorrow night.
  • With Stolmy Pimentel's appearance, it's now almost a sure thing that Brandon Cumpton will work the Thursday get-away game in place of Wandy.
  • Cueto came within two outs of tossing back-to-back shutouts against the Bucs. The last pitcher to do that was Montreal's Woodie Fryman in 1975. Cueto has twice retired 13 Pirate batters consecutively in his two starts against them this season and given up a run and six hits in two complete game wins.
  • As a sidebar, Volquez and Cueto are Dominican buds who became close during their days together at Cincinnati. This was the first time they've pitched against one another in the majors.
  • For all his strikeout woes, Starling Marte has been on base nine straight games until his streak ended tonight.
  • Ex-Bucs: Very small sample size, but Brock Holt is the only Red Sox hitting .300 or better this season. He’s also the only player with a slugging percentage of .500 or better.

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