Right-hander Johnny Cueto hopes to relive his Cincinnati Reds glory days Wednesday afternoon when he pitches the host San Francisco Giants against his former team in the finale of a three-game series.
The Reds will oppose their former All-Star with righty Tyler Mahle (1-0, 2.00 ERA) in hopes of claiming a series win after the Giants rebounded from a 3-0 loss on Monday with a 7-6 triumph on Tuesday.
Cueto (1-0, 2.51) began the Giants’ current six-game homestand with a dazzling performance in a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rockies last Friday. The 35-year-old turned back the clock in the club’s home opener, taking a shutout into the ninth inning and coming within one strike of his first complete game in five years.
Cueto, who pitched 7 1/2 seasons for the Reds before being dealt to Kansas City in 2015, has started three games against his old club since then, going 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA. He hasn’t seen them since May of 2017, when he worked eight innings, but didn’t get a decision, in a 3-2 home win.
Longtime teammate Joey Votto has gone 3-for-10 with a homer against his old mate, but, interestingly, it is a former Royals teammate — Mike Moustakas — who has given Cueto the toughest time among guys he might face Wednesday. Moustakas has a homer, two doubles, a single and a walk in nine career plate appearances against Cueto.
Both Votto and Moustakas homered for the Reds in Tuesday’s loss.
Moustakas’ homer was his second of the season as he gets reacclimated to playing third base after making 31 of his 44 starts last season at second. Reds manager David Bell believes the transition is going great.
“He’s playing really well,” Bell noted Tuesday. “He’s playing like he feels really comfortable.”
The Giants have lost just once — Monday against the Reds — on their homestand that ends Wednesday. They had allowed a total of seven runs in four games before the Reds roughed up another of their former employees — Kevin Gausman — for five early runs in Tuesday’s defeat, including the homers by Votto and Moustakas.
Mahle has faced the Giants just twice in his career, both times as a starter, going 0-1 with a 7.45 ERA. His biggest nemesis among current Giants has been Brandon Belt, who has batted against the 26-year-old twice and homered on each occasion, driving in three runs.
The native Californian allowed two homers in a 9-6 win over St. Louis in his first outing of the season, then overcame four walks to throw four shutout innings in a 6-5 win at Arizona in his most recent start last Friday.
Chances are, Mahle will see a well-rested Giants starting lineup even in a quick turnaround from a night game to an afternoon affair. That’s because San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler employed what he called a “line change,” replacing four of his eight starting position players as Tuesday’s game went along.
Austin Slater came off the bench to go 2-for-2 with a triple, while fellow reserve Donovan Solano drew a walk and scored the eventual game-winning run on a sacrifice fly by another backup, Wilmer Flores.
“There’s a lot of confidence up and down the lineup,” Kapler said of his deep team. “We trust our guys to come off the bench and be ready to do a lot of work, and I thought that paid off tonight.”
–Field Level Media