A series loss to the Astros? Yep.

The Three Stars from the Reds 5-1 loss to the Astros: (Click here for the game story)

No. 3 star: Tony Cingrani — 3 ip, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. As far as MLB debuts go, Cingrani had a strong one. He struck out his first batter and looked mostly smooth from there, save for Tyler Greene’s one-out homer to right-center field on a 1-0 pitch in the sixth.

“The one shining light was Cingrani had an excellent outing,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “:It was good to get him in there and get him multiple innings.”

No. 2 star: Edgar Gonzalez, HOU — 5 ip, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 6 K — A journeyman who was making his second big league start since 2009, Gonzalez retired 10 of his first 11 batters until a Joey Votto walk with one out in the fourth. Next batter Jay Bruce laced a triple past diving center fielder Jordan Schaefer for the Reds lone run. Gonzalez exited before the sixth with a blister on his right foot.

“I was so focused on throwing the ball down in the zone, especially in this park which is small and the ball flies a lot,” Gonzalez said. “The whole  time I was like that, and I just made a couple mistakes with Votto. I tried to keep the ball down, but the ball was up and with Bruce, the two best guys in the lineup, and Phillips.”

No 1 star: Matt Dominguez, HOU — 1-for-4, three-run HR. Dominguez hit a 1-0 changeup from Johnny Cueto to make it a 4-0 game.

“That’s the same guy that hit the three-run home run off of Chapman,” Baker said. “The two games we lost, he was very responsible.”

News and notes:

*On that Bruce triple, Votto had to hustle home from first base to score. I asked him how his surgically-repaired left knee responded.

“I felt good,” Votto replied.

*Here’s something you don’t see too often from the Reds these days: back-to-back series losses. First it was Philadelphia and now Houston, which has won only its second series since June 22-24. The Reds are 11-4-2 in second half series. Meanwhile, the Astros have won only two second-half series and hadn’t won a road series since at the White Sox June 8-10.

*Johnny Cueto looked very human, again. 4 ip, 9 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 6 K. Cueto came in with a 2.79 ERA over his past six starts, so it’s hard to say he’s struggling in the big picture. But he’s definitely lost some of that Cy Young Award momentum by losing his last two starts (both day games where he was 11-0 entering the home stand). Cueto is 17-8 with a 2.71 ERA. R.A. Dickey has 18 wins and a 2.64 ERA.

“He seems OK to me physically,” Baker said. “We talked about that with him before the start. He was throwing the ball well. It was a matter of getting the ball with not very good location. Whenever a guy gets hit hard that’s not used to getting hit hard, everybody wants to do if something is wrong with him. Sometimes you just have a couple of bad outings. That’s what it looks like to me. hopefully he’s not worried about things other than pitching and winning. He’s never been this close to 20 [wins], Cy Young. There are probably things running through his head. We’ll have to have a little sit down conference with him and get him back to being Johnny Cueto pitching.”

*I was asked by some folks if the Reds should give Cueto a break from an upcoming start. I don’t think they’ll need to do that. There are 3 off days left this month and the club has never skipped another starter’s turn to keep Cueto on his normal rest anyway. They won’t obviously change that plan now. And I wouldn’t be shocked if Cueto’s final regular season outing is a shorter tuneup before the postseason.

*The Reds are off to a 3-5 start in September and have averaged 2.6 runs per game this month.

*Didi Gregorius had an infield single deep to the hole at shortstop in the sixth for his first big league hit.


As the regular season winds down, I want to thank you for all the explanations and answers you have provided all season long.

I am honestly not trying to be negative here, but, come on guys and gals. Is Stubbs THAT good a center fielder that we MUST continue to watch his dismal offensive performances? He HAD potential. But we all can see now that he is NOT a major leaguer, at least yet. I BEG Jockety to make an executive call and demote him pronto. If for nothing else, to be fair to Heisey, who has fully earned his chance. PLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEASE!!!!

Although the Reds have an 8 1/2-game lead right now, I view it as only a 4 1/2-game lead over the Cards because the Reds finish the regular season with 3 games in St. Louis. I don’t want to see the Reds have less than a 4-game lead going to St. Louis because the Cards could easily sweep at home. A little scary!

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