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May 16, 2014

What You Need to Know

Cueto Fries the Friars

by Morris Greenberg and Chris Mosch


The Thursday Takeaway
The Padres and Reds played two on Thursday, with the first matchup pitting Johnny Cueto and Ian Kennedy against each other in a matchup between baseball's ERA leader and its FRA leader.

Nick Bacarella mentioned in yesterday's WYNTK that Cueto entered Thursday as the first pitcher since Fernando Valenzuela to start a season with eight starts of at least seven innings pitched while allowing two or fewer runs. That streak continued after Cueto tossed his second shutout of the season on Thursday, and he is now the first starting pitcher since 1914 to start a season with nine such starts.

The Cincinnati ace faced just two over the minimum and didn't allow a Padre to make it to second base until the ninth inning—when Will Venable advanced to second on a fielder's indifference. Cueto registered 15 swinging strikes—his second-highest total of the season—and finished with eight strikeouts against two walks.

Cueto's counterpart, Ian Kennedy, had one of his poorest outings of the season, as the San Diego right-hander served up 11 hits (which tied a season-worst) and failed to record a 1-2-3 inning. He managed to escape unscathed through the first four innings, but wasn't as fortunate when Brandon Phillips came to bat with two on in the fifth.

***

Kennedy didn't fool Phillips with the 2-1 changeup, and paid for leaving the offering over the heart of the plate. The Reds would tack on two more runs in the sixth inning, when Zack Cozart singled home Ryan Ludwick and Bryan Pena. Kennedy departed after six innings and 101 pitches, striking out four batters and issuing a single free pass.

With nine more scoreless frames, Cueto trimmed his league-leading ERA to 1.25. All but two of the runs Cueto has given up this season have come via the longball, and it's only a matter of time before his .160 BABIP and 99.5 percent strand rate fall back to earth. In the meantime, Cueto will try to extend his streak of seven-inning, two-run starts next week in Washington. —Chris Mosch

Quick Hits from Thursday
In game two of the San Diego-Cincinnati twin bill, Billy Hamilton created his fourth "Hamilrun" of the season, which Ben Lindbergh defined as manufacturing a run without recording a hit. After drawing a six-pitch walk from Tyson Ross to lead off the bottom of the first, Hamilton swiped second base on a first-pitch pitchout to Chris Heisey:

and took off for third base on the very next pitch.

After Heisey reached base on a four-pitch walk, Hamilton trotted home to score the first run of the nightcap on a Brandon Phillips groundout.

Behind a trio of home runs from Rene Rivera, Everth Cabrera, and Yonder Alonso, to back seven innings of one-run ball from Tyson Ross, the Padres were able to split the doubleheader by taking the finale, 6-1. Entering the game, Ross' slider had the eighth-best whiff/swing rate among pitchers who had thrown at least 100 sliders this season, and he increased that rate with 12 swing-and-misses against the Reds. —Chris Mosch

***

Mike Trout has achieved a lot since emerging on the baseball scene, but late Thursday night (and in the wee hours of the morning on the East Coast), the Angels' superstar checked one more item off his long list of accomplishments: a walk-off blast.

Grant Balfour entered the ninth inning with a 5-2 lead, but proceeded to walk the first two batters he faced, Hank Conger and Efren Navarro. The Angels' batting lineup turned back over, and Colin Cowgill followed with a groundball through the right side of the infield, plating Conger and cutting the lead to 5-3. Joe Maddon had seen enough from Balfour, who has now allowed 11 runs and walked 14 batters 15 1/3 innings this season.

Maddon brought in Brad Boxberger from the bullpen to face Trout, but the two-time MVP runner-up, tattooed the third pitch he saw—a 1-1 breaking ball—from Boxberger into the home bullpen to give the Angels the walk-off win.

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9 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

maphal

In two of the three games vs San Diego this week, Billy Hamilton scored in his first at bat of the game and the Reds did not score afterwards. Such is life when you utilize Heisey, Bernadina, Cozart, and Santiago.

May 16, 2014 07:46 AM
rating: 0
 
shmage

The Yankees wouldn't even have gotten that one run without Collins's perpetual managerial incompetence: putting Wright, instead of Tejada, on the left side of as shift alignment cost de Grom an inning-ending DP, and then having C. ($7 million) Young in center instead of Lagares, which allowed McCann(!) to score on Soriano's double.

May 16, 2014 07:50 AM
rating: 0
 
asstarr1

Has there ever been a time when both starting pitchers were making their major league debut and both got a hit? I'm a Play Index novice and couldn't find it.

May 16, 2014 07:55 AM
rating: 2
 
Geoff Young

Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I found two:

9/25/44: Cubs at Phillies, Charlie Gassaway and Charlie Ripple
9/21/63: White Sox at Tigers, Fritz Ackley and Denny McLain

May 16, 2014 14:19 PM
rating: 0
 
caminante1

"Cueto now stands alone as the only player to start a season with nine such starts.".

This is not correct. He is the first since 1914. On
Sportscenter (I believe) they showed one player from 1908 and one from 1909 who had longer such streaks.

May 16, 2014 09:07 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Chris Mosch
BP staff

Fixed, thanks.

May 16, 2014 12:40 PM
 
lheiman

Regarding Cueto: "to start a season" is nice trivia I suppose, but what about consecutive "high quality starts*" at any time?
B-P says he's #10 all time with 10 such starts (including one to end last year), and the record is 13. Since I don't have a B-P subscription, I can't tell who is higher on the list, but would like to know (hint, hint).

*hey, did I just define a new and improved category to replace the questionably named "quality start"?

May 16, 2014 11:04 AM
rating: 0
 
Dodger300

No.

A quality start is appropriately named and has no need to be replaced. When a pitcher throws one, he has given his team a good chance to win the game.

People get hung up over the very most extreme end of a QS, three runs in six innings, while often neglecting that most quality starts have a much better ERA than 4.50. They often forget that even when the starter gives up three runs (or less) he often goes on to pitch additional quality innings, too.

Sure, the definition is a bit arbitrary, but no more so than whatever definition you would decide upon for a "high quality" start. There is no way around that short of making it into a subjective statistic, which would make no sense at all.

May 18, 2014 01:16 AM
rating: 2
 
Johnston

Cueto has been seriously underrated. It's nice to see that changing.

May 18, 2014 20:06 PM
rating: 0
 
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