Cueto pitched a three-hitter Wednesday afternoon, striking out a career-high 12 and walking none against the Bucs in a 4-0 victory for the Reds. Two of his three career shutouts have come against Pittsburgh. His ERA fell to 2.22 in 22 career starts against the Pirates, not counting the wild card debacle at PNC Park in October, when he literally dropped the ball on the mound not long before the Bucs ended the Reds season.
Remember Pirates fans chanting his name until he got the dropsy?
None of that nonsense this time on his home ground at Great American Ball Park. With Cueto's hair extensions flowing in the breeze and glistening in the sunshine, he dazzled the Pirates with his half-Luis Tiant delivery. Finish him, Johnny! He did, getting Andrew McCutchen to fly out (hard) to right in his 107th pitch.
Cueto, as you figure he might, downplayed what happened in the past — specifically the bad time in the 'Burgh. This, from the Associated Press, says:
''I never think too much about those things,'' Cueto said, with assistant trainer Tomas Vera interpreting. ''That was 2013.''
[...] Maybe it didn't mean anything extra to Cueto, but his teammates got some satisfaction from beating the Pirates. ''For us to come together the way we have, especially against the team that beat us in the playoffs, it's a lot of fun,'' third baseman Todd Frazier said.
What Frazier said is probably closer to the truth, but if Cueto wants to play it that way, fine. If he gets another crack at the Bucs at PNC, we'll see how he reacts. Cueto says he doesn't think about the past, but he's going to have a lot of help being reminded of it.
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