Just when it looked like the Cincinnati Reds might crawl out from beneath the rock that has been their disappointing start to the 2014 season, not so fast.
Ace Johnny Cueto gave the Reds all the momentum they should need to build on in the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader against the San Diego Padres by throwing a shutout.
The gem by Cueto was a historic one as it made him the only pitcher since 1914 to make nine straight starts in a season with at least seven innings pitched while surrendering two earned runs or less and five hits or less in each start. Cueto also joined lefty Gomez (1937), Cy Blanton (1935) and Hoyt Wilhelm (1959) as just one of four pitchers since 1914 to make nine consecutive starts to open a season in which he gave up two earned runs or less with at least seven innings pitched in each start.
But history aside and a convincing shutout win notwithstanding, the Reds came back in the nightcap to fully remind their fans and the rest of the baseball world why they are a losing team this year.
First off, management immediately set the odds against the Reds from building on any momentum that Cueto may have generated by calling up Jeff Francis from the minors to start in a game that could have helped the Reds turn their season around. Francis lasted five innings and was lucky the damage wasn’t worse. The Reds decided not to pitch scheduled starter Alfredo Simon for the second game.
But it might not have made any difference who pitched in the second game because Reds manager Bryan Price decided to give early game starters Skip Schumaker, Ryan Ludwick and Zack Cozart the rest of the night off in favor of the likes of Roger Bernadina and Ramon Santiago, who along with the rest of the Reds’ batting order made Padres’ starter Tyson Ross look like……….Johnny Cueto.
All told, the Reds had a chance to gain ground in the NL Central and put a definitive stamp on their month of May by winning back-to-back home series. Instead, the Reds fell to 18-21 with the loss in the second game of the doubleheader and still look no closer to a winning, contending team than they did in April when they started the year 3-8.