By HAL McCOY
CINCINNATI — Not even the iconic and legendary Johnny Beisbol could stuff a cork into the flowing offense manufactured these days by the Cincinnati Reds.
To the Reds, Johnny Cueto was just another former teammate named Johnny on Sunday afternoon in Great American Ball Park.
Oh, they didn’t pillage and plunder Cueto the way they did San Francisco pitchers Friday and Saturday while scoring 27 runs. They only scored four off Cueto, which is about par against Cueto.
AND WHO IN THEIR RIGHT baseball mind would envision Cincinnti starter Scott Feldman outpitching Cueto. But he did and he did it soundly. And why not? Scott Feldman (SF) equals San Francisco (SF) every time.
Feldman plugged up the Giants offense like grease in a sink and the Reds completed a three-game sweep, 4-0.
He pitched a complete-game shutout and gave up up only four hits, walked one and struck out five. And he needed only 119 pitches to do it.
It was the fifth complete game and third complete-game shutout for the 34-year-old righthander from Hunters Point, Calif., and his first complete-game shutout since mid-season 2014.
AND HE HAD TO LOBBY his way into the ninth inning because manager Bryan Price has pitchers warmed up and ready to take care of the ninth. Feldman wanted it himself.
“I just asked him if it was negotiable or not,” said Feldman. “A lot of time it isn’t even negotiable so you don’t even bother. He showed some confidence in me, which was nice, and I went back out there.”
And he pitched a quick 1-2-3 ninth.
“I could see the finish line so close and you get a little extra adrenaline,” he added. “I felt like I got a bit of a second wind in the eighth inning when I stranded a runner (second base with no outs). I really felt great and had a lot left in the tank.”
PRICE SAID FELDMAN EARNED the chance for a complete game, especially when earlier this season he removed him after seven innings in a 1-1 game, “When he was throwing good.”
Price said he was impressed when Feldman came to him after eight innings and said, “I had him coming out after eight innings and he came up and asked, ‘Hey, Bryan, is there any chance for me to go back out. I feel great. Maybe if one runner gets on you can bring in a reliever.’
“I talked with pitching coach Mack Jenkins about it and Scott’s pitch-count was OK and he earned it,” said Price. “He is a veteran and never got himself into too much trouble. You have to treat a veteran like a veteran. You can’t bring a veteran pitcher in here and then try to cover him with young studs in the bullpen every time there is a little bit of trouble.”
OF HIS FIRST COMPLETE-GAME shutout in three years, Feldman said, “That’s always satisfying and I haven’t had a whole lot of them in my career. I was excited to finish because our bullpen has thrown a lot and I felt a little bit responsible for that.”
At the suggestion of catcher Devin Mesoraco, who caught Feldman in his previous start, Feldman used his sinker more and quit nibbling and nit-picking around the edges. And it worked.
Feldman coaxed 16 ground ball outs, nearly wearing himself out covering first on flip throws from first baseman Joey Votto four times.
IT WAS THE REDS’ FIFTH straight win and seventh in their last eight games, pushing their record to 17-and-14.
They scored two unearned run off Cueto in the first inning after shortstop Christian Arroyo booted leadoff hitter Billy Hamilton’s ground ball for an error. Singles by Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett gave the Reds a 2-0 lead.
Scott Schebler’s ninth home run of the season in the third inning and Zack Cozart’s second home run of the season in the fifth gave the Reds a 4-0 lead.
Feldman held the Giants hitless through three innings, until Hunter Pence led the fourth with a single, and scoreless through the entire game.
“I trusted my stuff, I was more aggressive, I threw to the target,” said Feldman after improving his work sheet to 2-and-3. “The last couple of games I got away from my strengths a little bit. I tried to pitch to a hitter’s weaknesses rather than to my strengths. I changed that today.”