Reds 5, Tigers 3: Cueto's day
Johnny Cueto's worst outing of the spring wasn't bad at all. He went four innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out four and walked three. All his troible came in the first. He retired 11 of the last 12 he faced. His ERA shot up to 2.08.
Detroit manager Jim Leyland gave Cueto a major compliment to Dusty Baker.
"He said he'd take Cueto," Baker said. "He wasn't tampering. He was joking. I was talking to him before the game about what happened to him with (Joel) Zumaya and (Juston) Verlander. Those guys came out of A ball. It's a matter of sometimes you go with the talent, especially when you haven't been winning with the stuff you've been using. (Cueto's) made an impression on everyone around this Grapefruit League, not just us."
With Jeremy Affeldt going to the bullpen, the Reds' rotation is starting look settled. Baker was asked he was convinced Cueto could do what he's done down here once the season begins.
"I never said I wasn't convinced," Baker said. "I just can't say that. I don't want to squelch other guys and I don't want him to think he has it made. Not that he'd do that. I don't think he's that kind of young man.
"This guy wants it badly."
Cueto's day started with two bloop singles by Edgar Renteria and Placido Polanco. Cueto struck out Carlos Guillen. But walked Magglio Ordonez to load the bases, then walked Miguel Cabrera on four pitches to force in a run. He fell behind Jacque Jones 3-1 but got him to groundout. Another run scored. Cueto struck out Ryan Raburn to leave runners at second and third.
"If you're going to get him, you're going to get him in the first," Baker said. "It's not like he was pitching against slouches over there. That's a good line-up. I knew it was going to be a big test. he passed it like he's pass all the other tests."
"He seemed unfazed," Baker said. "I know he was rattled by it. But he handled it like a veteran. He demonstrated damage control, which is what it's all about. When you do have your real good stuff, keep your team in the game until you can score some runs."
Corey Patterson doubled to lead off the first for the Reds. An out later, Griffey Lined to center to drive him in.
1-2-3 second for Cueto. He's not nearly as sharp as he's been, i.e., he went 3-2 on Kenny Rogers after being up 0-2.
1-2-3 third for Cueto as well.
Cueto walked the leadoff man in the fourth and then retired the side in order.
Adam Dunn tied it in the Reds' fourth with his second homer of the spring -- a high shot to right that went through a strong wind to get out.
Josh Roenicke gave up a hit and walked two in the fifth but struck out Cabrera to leave the bases loaded.
David Weathers picked a scoreless sixth. Francisco Cordero pitched the seventh and eighth. He allowed a run. "He only threw five pitches in the seventh," Baker said. "That's why he went back out. He was working on his fastball. When he got in trouble, he threw some nasty splits."