Despite pitching quite well in his first three starts of the 2014 season, Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto hasn’t been fortunate in the win column with a personal 0-2 record and a team mark of 0-3. On Wednesday afternoon, however, Cueto took matters into his own hands and dazzled the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates in a complete game shutout that resulted in a 4-0 victory for the Reds.
Cueto allowed only 3 hits, issued 0 walks and struck out 12 Pirates hitters in route to his shutout, and it was an utterly dominant performance. The 28-year-old entered the game with a very solid 2.14 ERA in his 3 outings with a 23-to-8 strikeout to walk ratio, but this was Cueto at his absolute peak, as he pelted the strike zone with 71 strikes and 36 balls on the way to the 3-hitter.
Of course, the Reds needed to score some runs in order to grab the victory, and star first baseman Joey Votto obliged with the biggest offensive play of the day. Votto took a Francisco Liriano offering over the right-center field wall in the 7th inning, and with that 2-run blast, the Reds took a 3-run lead that would never be remotely threatened by the Pirates.
Johnny Cueto isn’t generally considered to be an elite pitcher at this stage in his career, but as this performance reminded us on Wednesday, he is as good as anyone when he is going at his top level.