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Ross gets the call for Padres in nightcap

May 15, 2014


A rainout on Wednesday night has put the Reds and Padres in a tougher spot on Thursday. The two teams will play a day-night doubleheader Thursday on a getaway day.

Game 1 is slated for 12:35 p.m. ET as originally scheduled and Game 2, the rescheduled game from the postponement, will begin at 6:10 p.m.

Wednesday's original starters -- Johnny Cueto for the Reds and Ian Kennedy for the Padres -- are scheduled to start Game 1.

The Padres, who have one of the more anemic offenses in Major League Baseball, will have a tall order trying to slow the historically good start to the season currently being enjoyed by Cueto.

Cueto is the Major League leader in ERA (1.43), innings pitched (63) and opponents' batting average (.138). He is the first Reds pitcher to throw at least seven innings in his first eight starts of a season since Bucky Walters in 1944.

"I was really impressed by the hits-to-innings-pitched -- really, really impressive," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Not knowing him, but just following a little bit from afar, it seems like now he's totally healthy; I know that he's fought some injuries over the last couple of years, a variety of things going on physically.

"But I can't imagine anybody pitching any better than he has this early part of the season. Eight starts, 63 innings, that's impressive. I'm not a mathematician, but that's almost eight innings a start. In this day and age, that's pretty good. Walks are down, strikeouts are up. It's real, he's good. He's got a good arm, he's got good stuff."

Until Cueto's eight-inning start vs. the Rockies on Friday, no one in the Majors began a season with at least seven innings pitched over the first eight starts with two runs or fewer allowed in each since the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.

"I'm amazed, and yet not surprised, because I've had a chance to see him a lot," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "I've talked with Johnny in the past about empty pitches, which are pitches that are thrown that really didn't serve a purpose -- like a high fastball or a slider that misses way off the plate. It didn't serve any value. He has thrown so few of those pitches this year. He's around the plate with everything. When he's not, he's teasing the hitter just off the plate or just below or above the zone.

"He's quite pitch efficient. He's not going into the eighth inning with 119 pitches or throwing 135 pitches to throw nine innings. He's so pitch efficient, that it's a lot more comfortable to see him out there in seventh, eighth and ninth innings and see those innings start to stockpile."

San Diego might be able to take advantage of some of Cueto's misfortune, however. He has only a 3-2 record, because he's been a victim of either low run support or blown saves (two).

Lifetime vs. the Padres, Cueto is 2-2 with a 6.00 ERA, with his last victory coming on Aug. 2, 2012, in Cincinnati.

In Game 2, San Diego will start Tyson Ross while the Reds have the spot listed as "TBA." Alfredo Simon was originally the Thursday series finale starter for Cincinnati but has been moved back.

"There are certain protocols we have to follow before we can announce Game 2," Price said. "We prefer to have Simon pitch the following day in Philadelphia."

The Reds are expected to use their permitted 26th man allowance for the doubleheader to call up a spot starter to take the mound. One candidate could be Triple-A Louisville lefty Jeff Francis, who is scheduled to start Thursday in the Bats' game at Norfolk.

Reds: Frazier comfortable at plate
Reds third baseman Todd Frazier is enjoying a career-best 12-game hitting streak.

Frazier has made some minor adjustments at the plate this season with new hitting coaches Don Long and Lee Tinsley, but just feels very comfortable these days in the batter's box.

"It's nice to know when you're up there, the pressure is on the pitcher. You're not worried about a thing," Frazier said. "You have hitting coaches and players that have your back and understand your swing. With the situation we've got here with the new staff, they have been very helpful with me. We work on a lot of things, watch film and understand that if I slow everything down and be the hitter I am and trust my hands, I know I have the power. I know that I can hit the ball out of any park. Not to be cocky, but you've got to be that way. You have to be positive and understand that you're the best hitter you can be."

Padres: Alonso 'locked in and focused'
Yonder Alonso had a slow start to the 2014 campaign, hitting .167 in the month of April. But the first baseman has put together a solid first half of May, going into Thursday's contest against the Reds hitting .281 (9-for-32) on the month. Over his previous five games entering Thursday, Alonso was hitting .412 (7-for-17) with two doubles.

"I just think I've been focusing a lot more on my work pregame, during batting practice and in the game," Alonso said.. "I've been locked-in and focused. I think if you do a good job of working before the game and making sure those things are solid, everything else will get taken care of in the game."

Alonso was 0-for-3 in the series opener against Cincinnati on Tuesday, but said that a hitless game will happen from time to time, and doesn't take away from the groove he's in.

"That's baseball, man," he said. "It's not every day you're gonna go 3-for-3. It's just part of the game and you've just got to continue to work and continue to have solid work in the cage and so on and so forth. And just keep going."

Worth noting
• Wednesday's postponement was only the ninth in the 12-season history of Great American Ball Park, but the second this season.

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