Reds downplay losing chance to host wild card
CINCINNATI — With Sunday's game a formality, Cincinnati Reds manager Dusty Baker revealed that Johnny Cueto, not Mat Latos, will start Tuesday's wild-card game at PNC Park.
Cueto was scheduled to pitch Sunday against Gerrit Cole, but the Pirates' win Saturday secured home-field advantage for the chance to advance to the National League Division Series. Cueto will be making his third appearance since coming off the disabled list (1-0, 0.75 ERA in those three starts; 5-2, 2.82 ERA overall).
The right-hander, who was on the DL with a strained right lat three times this season, is 13-4 with a 2.37 ERA all-time against the Pirates and 8-2 with a 1.90 ERA at PNC Park.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle also said he'll rest Cole and instead start Brandon Cumpton for the regular-season finale. Cole then will be “in line” in case something out of the ordinary happens to starter Francisco Liriano, Hurdle said.
Greg Reynolds (1-2) will start Sunday for the Reds.
After Saturday's game, Baker admitted disappointment in not being able to win two of three at home and host the wild-card game.
“This hurts big time, but you can't bring it back, and you can't dwell on it,” Baker said. “You have to start over again.”
In 2012, the road teams won both National League and American League wild-card games. And in the NLDS, the Reds won the first two games at San Francisco before the Giants won two in Cincinnati and, ultimately, the series.
“I think with one game I'm not sure there is an advantage one way or another,” Reds first baseman Joey Votto said. “It's almost like flipping a coin sort of thing. Maybe because they're home they might have a 51 percent chance and we have 49, but you know what? They proved here and we proved in Pittsburgh that home field can be a bit overrated.
“I'm sure they'll feel like it's a real advantage, and that's fine, but I've noticed over the last few years that the best teams, the teams that win championships, have to overcome something on the road.”
Reds right fielder Jay Bruce also recalled his team's road playoff success last year.
“We're capable of winning anywhere,” he said. “When you go play on the road it's a little tougher ‘atmosphere,' but you play good baseball you win, and that's what we're going to have to do.”
Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen knows where he'd rather play.
“It's better to be home than on the road,” he said. “That's the way I look at it. That's all that needs to be said about it.”
Pirates right fielder Marlon Byrd said it's important the team keeps its focus but embrace the moment.
“It's a city of sports fanatics,” he said. “They've been waiting for us. The Steelers have been winning. The Penguins have been winning. They've been waiting on the Pirates, and now here we come. We made sure we were able to bring it back to Pittsburgh, and now it's time to really get it done.”
Karen Price is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @KarenPrice_Trib.
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