This game was about the same thing that happened the last time the Pirates faced Johnny Cueto. Cueto again went for a complete game and again allowed the Pirates to only get three hits and again gave the Reds a win. While he didn't strike out 12 Pirates last night (only four) he was wildly efficient after throwing over 30 pitches in the first two innings. The only blemish that he got was in the ninth inning when Andrew McCutchen went oppo bomb on him to make the score 4-1 with one out. I rarely like to say that a starting pitcher "has a teams number" but Cueto has the Pirates number.
The good news is that the Pirates got another outstanding start from Edison Volquez. He pretty much went pitch-for-pitch with Cueto for the first six innings. The problem is the seventh inning didn't go all that well and that is where things fell apart. Entering the seventh the Reds only had one hit, but after back-to-back hits to start the inning the Reds got things going. They scored two runs that inning and that proved to be just enough for Cueto even if he got a few more insurance runs.
Volquez went seven full innings and gave up only five hits and two runs. I will take that outing every day of the week. He threw 71 of his 100 pitches for strikes and for a guy who wasn't able to throw a lot of strikes he is sure throwing a lot of strikes. He was getting ahead of hitters and making good pitches. It is still pretty early but it still is kind of amazing that he has been this productive. Hopefully this continues.
McCutchen is another positive. He is starting to hit the ball really well after a slower start and when he is consistently hitting the ball the opposite direction like he has been then things are join really well. The Pirates had three hits last night and McCutchen had two of them to go along with a walk. He is up to .288/.414/.500 line and is 16-for-44 in his last 11 games with seven walks, six strikeouts, and eight extra base hits. Of those 11 games he has at least one hit in 10 of them and while those are just arbitrary end points things are looking really good for him right now.
This is just one of those games. Cueto was really good and has been really good all season. The Pirates have two more against the Reds to finish up this week.