One-hitter follows no-hitter for Cueto
Dragons pitcher leads off a doubleheader sweep over the Wizards with 5-0 win at Fifth Third Field.
By Marc Katz
DAYTON — Earlier Thursday afternoon, Spanish-speaking Dominican Johnny Cueto took an English lesson from teacher Lois Spetter.
Later, the Class A Midwest League Dayton Dragons' right-hander gave a lesson in pitching to the Fort Wayne Wizards.
"He's interested, and he's learning," Spetter said about Cueto's English.
"He was outstanding," Dragons manager Billy Gardner Jr. said of Cueto's pitching.
With outfielder Jay Bruce providing most of the offense with a homer and two-run triple, Cueto (pronounced Qweto) pitched a seven-inning, one-hit shutout as the Dragons beat the Wizards, 5-0, in the first game of a doubleheader at Fifth Third Field.
Dayton's Zach Ward nearly matched Cueto in the second game, settling for a 4-3 victory after allowing only one hit through five innings. Two Fort Wayne runs in the sixth were credited to Ward, who left with two out and two on.
Rain, which canceled Wednesday's game, held up the doubleheader's start and stopped play for eight minutes during the first game.
Only a two-out, fourth-inning double to center by Will Venable ruined a perfect game for Cueto, who pitched a rain-shortened, five-inning no-hitter at Wisconsin in his previous outing Sunday.
"I don't want any more hits after the double," Cueto said when asked what he was thinking when Venable doubled. In two games covering 13 innings against Fort Wayne, Cueto has allowed only two hits. "I want to do this with every team," he said.
Prior to the double, Cueto pitched 8 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing a hit. In the no-hit game, he also walked two and had one runner reach on an error.
Thursday, no other batter reached base with Cueto making two acrobatic plays — once nabbing a bouncer behind his back.
"He was in control," Gardner said. "He has mound presence and poise."
Third baseman J.D. Reininger provided the big hit in Game 2, a two-run double in the fourth. The Dragons added necessary runs in the fifth — driven in by Mike DeJesus — and in the sixth.
"Starting pitching set the tone," Gardner said. "It's easy to lose two and hard to win two. This was probably Ward's best performance of the year."
• Spetter, retired district coordinator of English as a second language for Huber Heights schools, worked with several Spanish-speaking Dragons in 2004 and was hired again by the parent Reds to teach Cueto and improve outfielder Gerardo Cabrera's English.
Both players are from the Dominican Republic, but Cabrera spent two years in Miami, and he can speak and understand English. He translates for Cueto.
• Venable is the son of former Reds outfielder and Dragons coach Max Venable, who now is a coach for Fort Wayne.
• Until the Wizards scored two runs in the sixth inning of Game 2, the Dragons had not allowed a run through a season-best 13 innings spanning three games.