Cueto felt strong; Reds lose
As I returned to action Friday, the Reds dropped their third-straight game with a 5-1 loss to the Rockies. Here is some news you can use:
*Johnny Cueto’s line: 6 ip, 5H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. Cueto retired a stretch of eight in a row before Michael Cuddyer hit a one-out single, followed by Todd Helton taking a first pitch deep for a two-run homer to right field in the top of the fourth inning. Cueto was only slated to work five innings but stayed for the sixth and is the first pitch to work that long this spring. As a matter of fact, no one else has worked five innings yet.
“I feel good. I felt strong,” Cueto said. “I worked on my breaking pitch [in the sixth.]”
“He looked pretty good. He wasn’t really sharp,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “He was kind of fighting himself. He was quite animated because he wanted to be sharper. … Strength wasn’t the problem. It was a matter of location.”
*Cueto, who did his postgame interview in English, also was 1-for-2 at the plate with a broken bat single to short right field in the third inning. There were no issues for the oblique he injured during the playoffs last year. When asked about his health for Opening Day, he replied “I’m ready.”
*Baker wasn’t too thrilled with his team’s performance overall.
“We hit into three double plays. That’s six outs on three pitches. We couldn’t keep the ball in the ballpark,” Baker said. “We left a couple of runners on third. That’s frustrating to see. It’s amazing the later you get in the spring how some of the guys that were looking good are not looking quite so good. We’ll see. We’ll keep running them out there until we have to make a decision.”
*Joey Votto, Zack Cozart and Chris Heisey were excused from the Reds complex all day on Friday. In my notebook today, Baker explains why.
*1B Neftali Soto, who started on Friday in Votto’s place, left the game after one inning with a mild quadriceps strain and was replaced by Donald Lutz. Soto hit a two-out double to center field in his only at-bat.
*Rockies mainstay (and a member of Reds camp last spring) Jeff Francis threw five scoreless innings with four hits allowed and three strikeouts. Francis is having one fine spring as he has blanked opponents in 18 of his 19 innings.
*The Reds did not reach the scoreboard until the bottom of the eighth when Derrick Robinson hit a RBI triple to right field that scored Bryson Smith.
*J.J. Hoover struck out the side in the top of the ninth in a strong appearance.
*During this game, Team USA was eliminated from the World Baseball Classic in the second round with a 4-3 loss to Puerto Rico. That means Brandon Phillips will be returning to Reds camp sooner than later. Phillips was on deck when the Americans went down in the ninth.
— Brandon Phillips (@DatDudeBP) March 16, 2013