Blue Jays-Reds Preview
Johnny Cueto owns baseball's best ERA although his record is the same as R.A. Dickey's because of the lack of support from the Cincinnati Reds.
Cincinnati may be in position to reverse those woes after totaling 20 runs in the first two games of this series.
The Reds will search for an eighth victory in 11 games Sunday when they host the Toronto Blue Jays in the finale of this three-game set.
Cueto (6-5, 1.92 ERA) has a chance to give his manager a victory on Bryan Price's 52nd birthday, and there's plenty of reason to believe it will happen. Not only does Cueto have the majors' lowest ERA, he owns a 0.68 ERA in day games along with a 1.68 mark in eight home starts.
The right-hander gave up two runs in six innings in Tuesday's 6-5 win at Pittsburgh, but didn't get a decision.
One concern could be Cueto's poor run-support average of 3.33, although Cincinnati (36-37) has been on a hitting tear, averaging 8.8 runs and batting .314 while slugging .500 in its last six games.
Dickey (6-5, 4.08) has had an inconsistent season, but he's yielded exactly two earned runs in each of his last three outings, pitching 6 2-3 innings as he suffered the defeat in last Saturday's 3-2 loss at Baltimore.
The knuckleballer departed that contest with a groin injury that caused his next start to be pushed back two days to Sunday.
"(Dickey) came out of the game with a groin, it makes sense to give him a day or two," manager John Gibbons told the Blue Jays' official website.
The righty is 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in three career outings versus Cincinnati.
The Toronto hitter Cueto, whose lone start in the series came in 2009, has seen the most is Colby Rasmus, who is 7 for 23 against him. Rasmus is 6 for 16 in four games after missing over a month due to right hamstring tightness.
The Reds evened this series with an 11-1 rout Saturday, bouncing back after they blew an eight-run lead in Friday's 14-9 defeat. Devin Mesoraco homered for the third straight game with a three-run blast as Cincinnati went 5 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
''That was a character game,'' Price said. ''We needed to show up and get yesterday out of our minds. One thing this team has shown all year is that it doesn't get down on itself.''
Right fielder Jay Bruce homered for the second straight game and has scored six runs in this series.
Toronto (42-34) trailed 8-0 after four innings Saturday and by that score after two Friday. Rasmus' seventh-inning homer was all the Blue Jays mustered one day after their highest scoring effort of the year.
''We never really had a chance," Gibbons said. "It was another big deficit to overcome. It was a little disappointing after last night, but there's nothing we can do about it now.''
Shortstop Jose Reyes left Saturday as a precautionary measure after he fouled a pitch off the side of his left knee in the fifth inning. His status is unclear.
This series marks the first time Edwin Encarnacion has started as a visitor in Cincinnati after he spent his first four-plus seasons with the Reds. Encarnacion homered twice with a career-high six RBIs Friday before going 0 for 3 on Saturday.
The Blue Jays have dropped 10 of 14, and still lead the second-place Yankees by 1 1/2 games in the AL East.