Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Take A Peek At Baseball's Next Big Thing

Illustration for article titled Take A Peek At Baseball's Next Big Thing

According to my calculations, the last pitcher to strike out 10 in his Major League debut was Daisuke Matsuzaka, last season. The last one to throw five perfect innings in his debut was the immortal Ken Cloude, in 1997 (do you know the team?). And the last Cincinnati Red to do either was ... well, no one. So here's 22-year-old Johnny Cueto, who sounds like a new brand of Mexican whiskey, who fanned 10 over seven innings in his first start for the Reds on Thursday. Cueto went five perfect innings before allowing his only hit — Justin Upton's homer to lead off the sixth — as the Reds beat the Diamondbacks 3-2. Wait, on second thought his name sounds more like one of Pacino's bodyguards in Scarface.


Reds blogs are calling him the next great arm for Dusty Baker to ruin, and just about everyone thought he was too short to make it in the majors (he's 5-11). But I first noticed him last season when he played for the Class-AA Chattanooga Lookouts, where he struck out 77 in 61 innings despite wearing this hat. And after Thursday's debut, we're hearing Fernando Valenzuela comparisons. So do the Reds have a companion piece for their Other Next Great Thing, Homer Bailey? We'll see.

Show Your Royals Love. Kansas City is 3-0, so stop talking about how the Tigers are choking and start giving the Royals some respect. Alex Gordon and Mark Teahen both homered in a 4-1 win over Detroit (team payroll $138.7 million). Kansas City is 3-0 for the first time since winning its first nine games in 2003. The Trey Hillman Magic is only beginning.

Dogs And Cats, Sleeping Together! Now time to check in on the greatest rivalry in all of sports: Cubs vs. Brewers. But what's this ... Ryan Dempster a starter? Kerry Wood a closer? Aramis Ramirez hitting the ball!? Ramirez homered, Dempster got the win and Wood his first career save as Chicago prevailed, 6-3. That's one in a row, doubters!

Thanks For Dropping By, Mike. Mike Hampton's comeback was postponed when he injured a chest muscle during warmups (is anyone surprised by this? Anyone ...?) so the Braves went to Plan B: Using seven pitchers and losing to the Pirates in 10 innings, 4-3. Xavier Nady drove in Nyjer Morgan with a single to win it. Following the game the Braves placed Hampton on the 15-day DL and called up the sometimes reliable and always amusing Jo-Jo Reyes. So, how to keep Hampton from being injured next time? May I suggest the bacon bra?

Walk This Way. There's nothing like a walkoff walk; I guess it's equivalent in the NFL would be if you got called for intentional grounding in the end zone during sudden-death overtime. Jesus Colome walked Jayson Werth to force in Jimmy Rollins with the winning run in the bottom of the 10th, giving the Phillies an 8-7 win over the Nationals. Sweep avoided — whew!