WASHINGTON -- Sometimes in elections, talk is cheap for a candidate with the voters. It's better to prove yourself on the job and in the arena. Reds ace Johnny Cueto certainly accomplished that on Tuesday night vs. the Nationals.
In what was billed as a marquee duel of aces between Cueto and Nats main man Max Scherzer, only Cueto came as advertised -- or perhaps even better. He threw a two-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts as he dominated Washington during a 5-0 Cincinnati victory. The timing could not be better as Cueto is seeking a spot in the Midsummer Classic via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote.
"He was great, so great he could have fun," said first baseman Joey Votto, who was 3-for-5 with three RBIs, while falling a triple shy of the cycle. "That's a rarity in this game, where you're playing so well you get to laugh and goof around on the mound. Watching him play, I hope the fans took notice and vote for him and send him to Cincinnati in front of the home fans."
Cueto threw 122 pitches over his nine innings with one walk. He retired his final 15 batters in a row and 17 of 18. At one point, he struck out five consecutive batters. Meanwhile, Scherzer lasted only 4 2/3 innings and gave up all five runs in his worst outing of the season.
Perhaps the outing gave Cueto a boost in the voting, as he led the National League ballot as of Wednesday morning.
It was Cueto's first complete game of the season and the first time in his career he notched at least 11 strikeouts with two or fewer hits.
"That was just A-grade stuff, command with action, all the deceptive stuff with the hesitation and quick pitches," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "Still quality strikes. It was a shut-down game by our ace."
There were likely multiple motivations in play for Cueto. First and foremost, he's a fierce competitor who likes to rise to challenges of facing other clubs' aces. But he's also seeking the All-Star bid and can be a free agent at season's end. Scherzer signed a contract north of $200 million as a free agent last winter, and Cueto will be a top free agent on the market this coming offseason.
"People out there, fans, know who I am. They know what I do," Cueto said via translator Tomas Vera. "All I have to do is to continue to do my job how I've always been doing it. I don't have to do anything different."
Cueto made it clear that he wanted to join Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman as All-Stars when the game is played at Great American Ball Park.
"I would love to pitch in the All-Star Game. I want to do it," said Cueto, a 2014 All-Star who did not pitch. "Besides that it's an All-Star Game, it's in Cincinnati. It's with my fans in my house and my team. Of course, I want them to see me pitch there."
"I think it was making a statement," Reds catcher Brayan Pena said. "He was making a statement on the field. He was showing everybody he is one of the best pitchers in the National League and in the big leagues in general.
"The fact he came here against a great pitcher and a great team and threw a complete-game shutout is saying something that, 'I'm here, and I belong in that All-Star Game.' Man, that was impressive."
Voting is open now at MLB.com to select the final player for each League's 34-man roster via the 2015 Esurance MLB All-Star Game Final Vote. Fans can cast their votes from a list of five players from each League until 4 p.m. ET on Friday.
And the voting doesn't end there. During the All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile in Cincinnati on Tuesday, July 14, fans can once again visit MLB.com to submit their choice for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet. Voting exclusively at MLB.com, online and via their mobile devices in the 2015 All-Star Game MVP Vote presented by Chevrolet, the fans' collective voice will represent 20 percent of the overall vote that determines the recipient of the Arch Ward Trophy.
MLB.TV Premium subscribers will be able to live stream the All-Star Game via MLB.TV through FOX's participating video providers. Access will be available across more than 400 supported MLB.TV platforms, including the award-winning MLB.com At Bat app. MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage of the All-Star Week festivities, including the 2015 Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, part of Gatorade All-Star Workout Day on Monday, July 13. The Derby will feature a new format with brackets and timed rounds and will be broadcast live by ESPN and MLB.com beginning at 8 p.m. ET.
The 86th Midsummer Classic will be televised nationally by FOX Sports (coverage begins 7 p.m. ET), in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.