Every year when the All-Star team is announced, there are some perceived snubs.
Cincinnati starting pitcher Johnny Cueto is one of the most glaring omissions this year, with the reasons for his exclusion varying depending on who's being asked.
Cueto will try to put aside any distraction from his All-Star snub Tuesday night and help lead the Reds to a sixth straight victory at Dodger Stadium and second in a row overall.
Cueto (9-4, 2.26 ERA) has the majors' fourth-best ERA, and ranks second in the NL with 13 quality starts and two complete games. Despite being the top starter for NL Central-leading Cincinnati (44-35), Cueto was denied a chance to pitch in his first All-Star game.
Dusty Baker believes the likely explanation for the omission of Cueto - and Brandon Phillips - is that former St. Louis skipper Tony La Russa - the manager of the NL team - still holds a grudge for the role the two Reds played in a bench-clearing brawl against the Cardinals in 2010.
"It just kind of looks bad that Johnny and Brandon were at the center of our skirmish between us and the Cardinals," Baker told the Reds' official website. "Some of the Cardinals that aren't there anymore are making some of the selections."
La Russa said that theory was nonsense, and the ultimate reason Cueto didn't make the team is because he is scheduled to pitch Sunday, which would make him ineligible to pitch in the Midsummer Classic.
Before taking the ball this weekend in San Diego, Cueto will look to bounce back from his first shaky outing in a month.
The right-hander gave up three runs, six hits and four walks in six innings of a 5-0 loss at San Francisco on Thursday. Cueto still has a 1.85 ERA in his last six starts, including the subpar showing against the Giants.
He was even better in his two starts against the Dodgers last season, going 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA.
Los Angeles (44-37) reverted to its recent struggles Monday, losing the opener of this series 8-2 after beating the New York Mets 8-3 on Sunday to snap a seven-game skid. Cincinnati starter Homer Bailey limited the Dodgers to five hits over eight innings.
Los Angeles has totaled seven runs in its last eight losses, five of which were shutouts.
The Reds have won three of four following a 3-7 stretch, but there is some cause for concern on the injury front.
First baseman Joey Votto has sat out the last two games with inflammation in his left knee and starting shortstop Zack Cozart sustained a concussion Monday after being hit in the helmet by a pitch from Chad Billingsley.
"They gave him all the tests and said that Zack should be OK," Baker said.
Rookies Devin Mesoraco and Todd Frazier picked up the slack, driving in three runs apiece.
"We're a team," Mesoraco said. "We've got 25 guys, and everyone is supposed to do their job and contribute."
Jerry Hairston Jr. homered for the Dodgers, only the team's second home run in the last 18 games. Going deep again may be a tall order against Cueto, who hasn't allowed one over his last six starts spanning 43 2-3 innings.
The Dodgers counter with Chris Capuano (9-3, 2.69), who is enjoying a renaissance in his first season with Los Angeles, leading the team in wins while ranking ninth in the NL in ERA. The left-hander pitched well against the New York Mets on Thursday, permitting three runs, five hits and no walks in seven innings, but received little help offensively and was saddled with a 3-2 loss.
Capuano, who pitched for the Mets last season, went 1-0 with a 7.15 ERA in two starts against the Reds in 2011.
Like Cueto, Capuano was not selected to the NL All-Star team.
- Johnny Cueto