May 3, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches during the third inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

Padres-Reds Game 2&3 Preview

CINCINNATI- A rainout on Wednesday night has put the Reds and Padres in a tougher spot on Thursday. The two teams will play a day-night doubleheader Thursday on a getaway day.

Game 1 is slated for 12:35 p.m. ET as originally scheduled and Game 2, the rescheduled game from the postponement, will begin at 6:10 p.m.

Wednesday’s original starters — Johnny Cueto for the Reds and Ian Kennedy for the Padres — are scheduled to start Game 1.

The Padres, who have one of the more anemic offenses in Major League Baseball, will have a tall order trying to slow the historically good start to the season currently being enjoyed by Cueto.

Cueto is the Major League leader in ERA (1.43), innings pitched (63) and opponents’ batting average (.138). He is the first Reds pitcher to throw at least seven innings in his first eight starts of a season since Bucky Walters in 1944.

“I was really impressed by the hits-to-innings-pitched — really, really impressive,” Padres manager Bud Black said. “Not knowing him, but just following a little bit from afar, it seems like now he’s totally healthy; I know that he’s fought some injuries over the last couple of years, a variety of things going on physically.

“But I can’t imagine anybody pitching any better than he has this early part of the season. Eight starts, 63 innings, that’s impressive. I’m not a mathematician, but that’s almost eight innings a start. In this day and age, that’s pretty good. Walks are down, strikeouts are up. It’s real, he’s good. He’s got a good arm, he’s got good stuff.”

Until Cueto’s eight-inning start vs. the Rockies on Friday, no one in the Majors began a season with at least seven innings pitched over the first eight starts with two runs or fewer allowed in each since the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

“I’m amazed, and yet not surprised, because I’ve had a chance to see him a lot,” Reds manager Bryan Price said. “I’ve talked with Johnny in the past about empty pitches, which are pitches that are thrown that really didn’t serve a purpose — like a high fastball or a slider that misses way off the plate. It didn’t serve any value. He has thrown so few of those pitches this year. He’s around the plate with everything. When he’s not, he’s teasing the hitter just off the plate or just below or above the zone.

“He’s quite pitch efficient. He’s not going into the eighth inning with 119 pitches or throwing 135 pitches to throw nine innings. He’s so pitch efficient, that it’s a lot more comfortable to see him out there in seventh, eighth and ninth innings and see those innings start to stockpile.”

San Diego might be able to take advantage of some of Cueto’s misfortune, however. He has only a 3-2 record, because he’s been a victim of either low run support or blown saves (two).

Lifetime vs. the Padres, Cueto is 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA, with his last victory coming on Aug. 2, 2012, in Cincinnati.

In Game 2, San Diego will start Tyson Ross while the Reds have the spot listed as “TBA.” Alfredo Simon was originally the Thursday series finale starter for Cincinnati but has been moved back.

“There are certain protocols we have to follow before we can announce Game 2,” Price said. “We prefer to have Simon pitch the following day in Philadelphia.”

The Reds are expected to use their permitted 26th man allowance for the doubleheader to call up a spot starter to take the mound. One candidate could be Triple-A Louisville lefty Jeff Francis, who is scheduled to start Thursday in the Bats’ game at Norfolk.

Game 2: 12:35pm on FOX SPORTS 1

Game 3: 6:10pm on FSN OHIO





Tags: Alfredo Simon Bryan Price Cincinnati Reds Jeff Francis Johnny Cueto Reds

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