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September 6, 2013

What You Need to Know

Thursday's Wild Card Contender Drama

by Daniel Rathman


The Thursday Takeaway
According to general manager Walt Jocketty, when Johnny Cueto—who has been on the disabled list since June 29 while recovering from an aggravated lat strain—is ready to return to the Reds, he will do so as a reliever. Jocketty’s rationale for that plan, which could span the rest of the season, is that there aren’t any active minor-league affiliates with which Cueto could complete a step-by-step rehab assignment, stretching out his arm from start to start.

That puts the onus on the Reds’ five current starters, who have held down the fort for much of the summer. One of them, Tony Cingrani, spent two weeks on the shelf with a lower back strain, but returned to face the Cardinals in the series finale last night. He looked no worse for the wear—on the mound, at the plate, and on the base paths.

Cingrani took advantage of a St. Louis lineup that has struggled to hit left-handed pitching all season, working 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball, over which he permitted four hits and three walks while collecting seven strikeouts. Under different circumstances, the 24-year-old might have pitched deeper into the contest, but he uncorked a wild pitch and walked a batter in a wild sixth inning, leading Dusty Baker to turn to Zach Duke with Cingrani’s pitch count at 79.

By that point, the Reds had already done ample damage to Cardinals starter Lance Lynn, who departed after five frames and was charged with four runs on seven hits. Todd Frazier, Shin-Soo Choo, and Jay Bruce all went deep against Lynn, who also threw a wild pitch and walked four batters, needing 102 pitches to record 15 outs.

That wild pitch occurred during a rather bizarre sequence in the bottom of the second inning, which began innocuously with a fly out by Zack Cozart and a ground out by Ryan Hanigan. Before we go any further, a quick reminder: The Reds player in question here is Cingrani, not Billy Hamilton.

With the count at 0-1, Cingrani, a left-handed hitter, placed a drag bunt between first baseman Matt Adams and second baseman Matt Carpenter and beat Lynn in a footrace to the bag. Then, with an 0-2 count on Choo, he took off for second and beat the one-hop throw from backup catcher Tony Cruz. Lynn’s payoff pitch to Choo skipped into the batter’s box and past Cruz, and Cingrani scampered over to third. He scored on an infield single by Brandon Phillips—a grounder into the 5.5 hole that Ryan Jackson fielded but could not convert into the third out.

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Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (09/06)
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