With Joey Votto’s status unknown and Jay Bruce not expected to return for at least one more day, the Cincinnati Reds could use another stellar outing from Johnny Cueto to build on a rare road win.
The major league’s ERA leader will seek his fifth consecutive victory Tuesday night and spoil Doug Fister’s home debut for the Washington Nationals.
Votto remained in Cincinnati and missed his fourth straight game Monday, and the Reds (20-23) are hoping their All-Star first baseman can avoid a trip to the disabled list because of a strained left quadriceps. Bruce isn’t eligible to come off the disabled list (knee) until Wednesday, and the team used catcher Devin Mesoraco as its cleanup hitter in Monday’s 4-3, 15-inning win.
Cincinnati had 13 hits but went 2 for 24 with runners in scoring position. The Reds were saved by a pair of diving catches from Brandon Phillips and Billy Hamilton, and Todd Frazier’s two-run homer in the 15th lifted the team to its second win in nine road games.
Cincinnati is batting .208 and averaging 2.8 runs in its last 11 games, and hitting .197 with 2.4 runs in its last nine on the road.
Cueto (4-2, 1.25 ERA) will try to keep the pressure off Reds’ hitters in his first road start since April 27. The right-hander is 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA in three outings away from home this season and 4-0 with a 0.88 ERA in his last six overall with three complete games.
He tossed his second shutout of the season – a three-hitter with eight strikeouts – in Thursday’s 5-0 victory over San Diego. Cueto has pitched at least seven innings, allowed two runs or fewer and given up five hits or less in each of his nine starts.
"My numbers are going to talk for me. Everybody else has to do and worry about their own numbers. When I go on the mound, I do my job. I have to do my job to get the best numbers," he told the team’s website.
Cueto is 3-0 with a 2.67 ERA in his last four starts against Washington (23-21) and gave up three runs over six innings in his only matchup last year, a 6-3 home win April 7.
Fister will face Cincinnati for the first time when he makes his third start for the Nationals. The right-hander gave up one run over seven innings and struck out six Wednesday in Arizona but did not get a decision in a 5-1 victory.
"Great job by Doug," shortstop Ian Desmond said. "After his last start, I’m sure he needed that one."
Fister (0-1, 4.76 ERA) was tagged for seven runs and nine hits – including three homers – over 4 1-3 innings in his debut with the team, an 8-0 loss to Oakland on May 9. He started the season on the disabled list due to a strained right lat.
Nate McLouth has performed the best among Washington hitters with at least six at-bats against Cueto. The outfielder is 6 for 19 (.316) with one home run in those matchups.