Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Johnny Cueto Shuts Out Nats In Battle Of Aces

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Jul 7, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) pitches during the first inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Nats Don’t Take Advantage Of Early Scoring Chances

Against a dominant pitcher like Johnny Cueto, you have to find a way to take advantage of run scoring opportunities when you get them. The Nationals have not been able to do that at all this series, going 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position. Even down 2-0 early, Washington had a chance to answer back against Cueto in the bottom of the first.

Thanks to an error by Joey Votto at first, Danny Espinosa reached base and then Bryce Harper looped a single into left for a hit. However, Wilson Ramos grounded out to second and Clint Robinson flew out on the first pitch to end that chance.

Three innings later, it was Harper who started the inning off with a leadoff walk. Thanks to an error by Todd Frazier on a groundball by Ramos, the Nats had two on and nobody out. Even in that situation, Washington couldn’t get a run. Robinson grounded out to second, but since Ramos stopped running because he thought he was out of the baseline, the Reds turned it into a double play.

The worst blown opportunity came in the bottom of the fifth, even though the Nats were down 5-0. Ian Desmond led off the inning with a triple to left field. However, not only were Matt den Dekker, Taylor Jordan, and Michael Taylor not able to score Desmond from third, they all struck out. This was part of a streak of five straight strikeouts for the Reds’ ace.

On the night, Cueto threw a complete game, two-hit shutout, struck out 11 Nats (a season high) and walked one on 122 pitches. The Nats did work his pitch count up a couple of times, but they were not able to get the big hit to get back in the game. Last night, you saw some of the effects of how a lineup without most of its regulars can look when facing a dominant pitcher of Cueto’s caliber.

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