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Johnny Cueto leaves NLDS start after eight pitches

Kevin Kaduk
Big League Stew

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The Cincinnati Reds quickly ran into their first big challenge of the postseason when starter Johnny Cueto had to leave Game 1 of the NLDS after just eight pitches on Saturday night.

Tom Verducci of TBS reported that the righthanded Cy Young candidate felt back spasms while warming up for his start against the San Francisco Giants. Cueto tried to play through the pain but was forced from the game after striking out leadoff batter Angel Pagan on six pitches and throwing twice to Marco Scutaro. Verducci said the Reds did not believe it would be a long-term injury and that they hope Cueto will be able to return for Tuesday's Game 3.

Sam LeCure relieved Cueto and escaped the first inning without incident. He ran into trouble in the second after loading the bases with two outs but got out of it when fellow pitcher Matt Cain flied out to right.

Starter Mat Latos, who was slated to start Tuesday's Game 3 back in Cincinnati, warmed up in the bullpen during the second inning and entered in the third.

Cueto's exit comes after Cincinnati experienced a remarkable run of good luck in the regular season when it came to the health of its rotation of Cueto, Latos, Homer Bailey, Bronson Arroyo and Mike Leake. Only one pitcher outside of the starting five (Todd Redmond) made a start in 2012 and that was because the Reds were playing a doubleheader in the middle of August.

David Wells left Game 5 of the 2003 World Series after eight pitches and one inning because he was also experiencing back spasms, but neither holds the record for abbreviated postseason start. That would belong to John Thomson of the Atlanta Braves, who left Game 3 of the 2004 NLDS after four pitches with a reaggravated oblique injury.

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