Villarreal Makes First MLB Start

Another trip to the DL for Johnny Cueto opened the door up for Pedro Villarreal to make his first MLB start. Unfortunately Carlos Gonzalez and the Colorado hitters were unkind and he did not make it out of the fourth inning. The 25 year-old Villarreal has paid his dues since the Reds drafted him in 2007 and provides rotation depth while pitching at Louisville.

Pedro Villarreal made his first ever MLB start Wednesday as Cincinnati hosted Colorado. Unfortunately that was the only thing memorable about the outing as the Rockies jumped on him for six runs and knocked him out of the game in the fourth inning as the Reds lost 12-4. He was tagged for three home runs, two by Carlos Gonzalez who had three in the game. Things started off well enough for the home team as they took the lead with four runs in the first from an RBI single by Todd Frazier and three-run homer by Xavier Paul. They would not score again in the game while the Rockies frequently rounded the bases. Frazier finished with two of his team's five hits while Jack Hannahan reached from both a single and a walk.

Logan Ondrusek relieved Villarreal and did not allow a run in one-plus innings. The Reds bullpen gave up six runs on the night before Jonathan Broxton threw a scoreless ninth. Villarreal took the roster spot of Johnny Cueto who returned to the DL with a shoulder strain. The Reds ace is not expected to miss more than a couple of turns of the rotation. Hannahan got the start in place of Brandon Phillips who is day-to-day from a forearm contusion. Cincinnati did not lose any ground in the standings from the loss and are still 2.5 games behind St. Louis who dropped their game against Arizona. Pittsburgh is in third place, four games out. The two leaders are headed for a showdown in Cincinnati this weekend.

Villarreal made his MLB debut when he pitched an inning for the Reds after roster expansion last season. Before the call-up this year he put up a flat five ERA over eleven starts for Louisville. He actually started off well and his ERA was around half of that after his first four appearances. He arrived at AAA after a promotion in the first half of last season and finished 2012 at 4.61. Before that he'd played for seven different Reds affiliates since they drafted him out of Howard (TX) College in 2007.

The 25 year-old right-hander was considered a project at that time after he'd completed a junior college career as a closer for a team that frequently won by blowout. It was attention for one of his teammates that put him in front of scouts who were impressed with his mid-90's fastball. Most of his action as a professional has been as a starter and he initially struggled with command. Progress has been made in that area and his AAA K/BB ratio has been 2.62 while walking 2.5 per nine innings at that level.

He has established himself as a second line starter available at AAA when needed for occasions like last night. No insult to Villarreal or any of their other pitchers to say the Reds would prefer to have Cueto available as soon as possible. Until then it appears Villarreal will get another shot at the top level at Chicago next week.

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Louisville tied up their game against visiting Norfolk from back-to-back homers by Corky Miller and Mike Hessman in the ninth inning before losing 8-7 in ten. Miller sac flied home the Bats first run in the fifth following a Denis Phipps double to lead off the inning. The Bats tore into a six-run Tide lead in the seventh when Emmanuel Burriss singled in a run and got closer the next frame with three from a two-run double by Felix Perez and RBI single off the bat of Henry Rodriguez. Kristopher Negron led his team with three hits while Perez had two more to go along with a walk. Neftali Soto added two singles and Phipps reached with a walk in addition to his double. Chad Reineke returned to the rotation and allowed two runs in five innings for no decision. Jose Diaz and Nick Christiani combined for three scoreless innings of relief before Curtis Partch allowed the game winner in the tenth.

Pensacola lost 4-2 in the completion of a suspended game at Montgomery and then had their regularly schedule game rained out. The Wahoos took a lead in the seventh from a two-run homer by Joe Mather, but allowed three in the bottom of the inning to provide the final score. Travis Mattair reached twice from a single and walk. Daniel Renken allowed only one run in six innings Tuesday before the suspension. Wilken De La Rosa allowed two runs in less than one inning for the loss.

One day after a 1-0 win Bakersfield lost 15-9 at High Desert. The Mavericks took a nine-run lead after two innings and cruised. Marquez Smith and Juan Silverio stroked three hits each for the Blaze while Steve Selsky and Juan Silva added two hits apiece including a two-run homer by Silva. Yovan Gonzalez reached twice via a single and walk. Michael Dennhardt got the start and was chased in the second inning, allowing six runs for the loss.

Dayton took a four-run lead after four innings and held on for a 5-3 win at Bowling Green. Junior Arias plated the first run of the game with a solo home run in the second inning. Beau Amaral doubled in a run in the third and tripled another one home in the fourth with Brandon Dailey adding an RBI double in between. Seth Mejias-Brean added some insurance by leading off the sixth with a double and later scoring on an error. Amaral finished with two hits and a walk while Mejias-Brean and Arias added two hits apiece to the Dragon attack. Ismael Guillon got the win for allowing two runs over the first five innings. He only allowed one hit, but continued to struggle with control and walked five. Sean Lucas tossed two scoreless frames to end the game and pick up the save.

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