Tony Cingrani’s zooming ascent to the majors has been capped by two sterling starts as the first Cincinnati Reds’ lefty to win his big-league debut since Tom Browning in 1984.
Cingrani, 23, who starred at South Suburban College and Rice University, beat the Marlins in his first game April 18. He gave up one run and five hits with eight strikeouts.
"It could have been a little better overall, but I'm happy with it,” Cingrani said afterward.
He was no one-hit wonder. In his second start Tuesday, he limited the Cubs to two runs and five hits, fanning nine, in seven innings. Cingrani got a no-decision.
"I was a lot more comfortable,” he told reporters. “The tempo was a little bit slower to me, so it was good. I was trying to make first pitches and make sure I was getting ahead of people. I wasn't really thinking too much about trying to throw a complete game or anything.”
Cingrani more than filled in for an injured Johnny Cueto after being called up to replace the Reds ace.
A third-round Reds draft pick in 2011, Cingrani jumped from rookie league that season through Class A and Double-A in 2012 to a September promotion to Cincinnati.
Francona says Theo will fend off wolves: The predators are starting to circle Theo Epstein. His 2013 Cubs look like they’ll even underwhelm last year’s 101-loss team, with no ETA on Epstein’s rebuilding program kicking in at the big-league level.
Yet one of his closest associates believes Epstein will have a thick enough hide to survive the coming nips and bites.
“If you’re worried about his toughness, you’re worried about the wrong thing,” said Indians skipper Terry Francona, the only manager Epstein ever hired while running the Red Sox.
“He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s hard-working and he’ll figure it out,” he said. “It may not on your timetable, it may not be on some fans’ timetables. He’ll get it figured out.”
Francona pointed to the Athletics’ pitching as a factor that accelerated that team’s rebuilding process in 2012. Epstein, though, does not yet have the collection of arms that Oakland possessed.
Well-played, Mauer: The Cubs and White Sox together probably couldn’t assemble a full lineup of effective hitters with runners in scoring position.
“I think they maybe try too hard; you want to get that runner in, knowing you’re struggling a little,” Twins master batsman Joe Mauer said. “You probably try to do some things that are outside your game. For me, hitting home runs and trying to pull the ball.
“People are more aware of it, get those runners in, but they probably put a little too much pressure on themselves, and do something they normally wouldn’t do.”
The list: The winningest pitchers on the losingest Cubs teams: Bob Buhl, 12 wins amid 103 losses, 1962; Ken Holtzman, 11 wins amid 103 losses, 1966; Jeff Samardzija and Paul Maholm, nine wins amid 101 losses, 2012; Rick Reuschel, 11 wins amid 98 losses, 1980; Jon Lieber, 12 wins amid 97 losses, 2000.