(Sports Network) - Two of the top young pitchers in baseball square off on
Sunday when the Cincinnati Reds host the Washington Nationals in the finale of
a three-game series at Great American Ball Park.
Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos each homered in the top of the 11th inning, and
the Nationals held on to beat the Reds, 7-6, in Saturday's second game.
These teams have combined to score 28 runs in the first two games, but, with
Washington going with Stephen Strasburg for the rubber game and the Reds
countering with Johnny Cueto, such continued fireworks are unlikely.
Strasburg, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2009 draft, was masterful in his
initial start of 2013, pitching seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball with
three strikeouts and no walks in a 2-0 defeat of the Miami Marlins on April 1.
It followed up nicely on his bounce-back season of 2012, when, after making
just five starts in a 2011 lost to injury, he won 15 of 21 decisions for the
National League East Division champions and posted a 3.16 earned run average
with 197 strikeouts in 159 1/3 innings.
Strasburg made a big splash upon reaching the majors as a rookie in 2010,
winning five of eight decisions and posting a 2.91 ERA across 12 starts. He
underwent ligament replacement surgery in his right elbow in 2011, however,
and made news last year when the Nationals announced he'd be on an innings
He won his lone career start against the Reds after allowing three runs on
seven hits in 5 1/3 innings on July 21, 2011, in Cincinnati.
The Reds counter with Dominican-born righty Johnny Cueto, who was fourth in
the NL's Cy Young Award voting last season after winning a career-high 19
games in 28 decisions for the Central Division champions.
He posted a 2.78 ERA and allowed 205 hits with 170 strikeouts in 217 innings,
finishing behind winner R.A. Dickey, Clayton Kershaw and Washington's Gio
Cueto debuted this season with a seven-inning stint against the Los Angeles
Angels of Anaheim on April 1 and emerged with a no-decision after allowing a
single run on three hits in seven innings.
He's 4-2 in seven career starts against Washington.
On Saturday, Desmond took Cincinnati reliever J.J. Hoover (0-2) deep to left
field to begin the 11th. One out later, Ramos crushed his second home run of
the game, a drive over the center-field wall to put the Nationals up 7-5. The
Washington catcher also belted a two-run blast off Reds starter Mike Leake in
Craig Stammen (1-0) struck out the first two Cincinnati batters in the bottom
of the 11th before Joey Votto walked and scored on a double by Brandon
Phillips. Stammen, however, fanned Jay Bruce on three pitches to end the
The Nationals overcame blowing a 5-1 lead they carried into the eighth.
Cincinnati pushed two runs across in the inning, then pulled even in the ninth
against new Washington closer Rafael Soriano.
"Good job battling back by our guys," Leake said.
Washington won five of seven games against the Reds in 2012, including two of
three in Cincinnati.
The Sports Network