The Cincinnati Reds have been able to generate a playoff-ready resume without the services of their staff ace, but on Monday, he returned in impressive fashion.
Johnny Cueto, starting for the first time since June 28th, pitched 5 scoreless innings as the Reds downed the Houston Astros by the score of 6-1. The 27-year-old Cueto allowed only 5 hits and 1 walk while striking out 5, and while the competition was less than stellar, he looked crisp in delivering 82 quality pitches.
He wasn’t without help, as the offense generated 6 runs while being led by Zack Cozart. The embattled shortstop hit his 11th home run of the season, and generated 4 RBI in keying multiple offensive rallies, and he was flanked by a 2-RBI day from outfielder Jay Bruce, as well as 3 more at-bats from star 1B Joey Votto that resulted in him reaching base.
However, the start of the night was Johnny Cueto, and he is a huge key going forward for Cincy. They’ve managed to put up a 85-66 record that is good for a 5-game Wild Card cushion, but this is a different team when Cueto is right. Just one year ago, Cueto was leading them with 217 innings of 2.78 ERA baseball, and if they can trot out Cueto and Mat Latos in a 1-2 role for the playoffs, this is an uber-dangerous ball club.
Welcome back, Johnny.