A few seasons after capturing the 1939 National League MVP Award while claiming a Triple Crown and helping his Reds to the team's first pennant since 1919, right-hander Bucky Walters opened Cincinnati's 1944 campaign with a three-hit, complete-game loss to the Cubs. After seven days of rest, Walters was back on the hill, and although he gave up seven hits, those seven allowances were spread over 13 innings as he twirled a shutout. Another three-hitter (this time in a complete-game win) followed four days later, a four-hit shutout came in Walters' fourth start and then in his sixth time on the mound, the righty hurled a one-hit shutout, facing just one over the minimum in a no-walk, no-strikeout gem of an effort. By the time May was done, Walters had made nine starts and one relief appearance, had allowed just 52 hits in 87 2/3 innings, was holding batters to a .169 batting average and had a 1.33 ERA. It's the type of start that one uncovers when looking for comparisons to Johnny Cueto's early-season resume in 2014.
In the first game of Thursday's doubleheader, Cueto hurled a three-hit shutout with eight K's and two walks as Cincinnati topped San Diego, 5-0. In the win, Cueto improved to 4-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.25, and the Reds improved to 18-20.
Cueto now has a trio of three-hitters this season, two of them shutouts. He is the 36th pitcher since 1914 to have at least three complete games on three or fewer hits this early into the season. A couple of notes regarding the group of 36:
• Among this group of 36, Cueto finds himself surrounded by five other Reds pitchers: Rube Benton (1914), Walters ('44), Wayne Simpson ('70), Mario Soto ('84) and Danny Jackson ('88)
• Cueto is the first pitcher to do this since the Angels' Mark Langston in 1993
Cueto is the 100th pitcher to have two or more shutouts on three or fewer hits this early into the season (and one of two in 2014, joining the Rangers' Martin Perez). Among this group of 100, Cueto joins fellow Reds Fred Toney (1917), Si Johnson ('33), Jim O'Toole ('63), Tony Cloninger ('69) and Simpson ('70).
Cueto's line in this game produced a game score of 87 -- his second-highest score this season after a 93 on April 16. Since 1914, the only other Reds pitchers to have at least two performances which produced scores this high and this early into the season: Hod Eller in 1919 and Jim Maloney in 1966.
Cueto has thrown at least seven innings in all nine of his games and has not allowed any more than two runs in any of them. That is the longest such streak to open a season since 1914, eclipsing Fernando Valenzuela's run of eight straight in 1981.
Since 1914, Cueto is the first Reds pitcher (with a minimum of nine starts) to hold an ERA as low at 1.25 through the team's first 38 games. The two closest to Cueto: Dutch Ruether in 1920 (1.26) and Walters in '44 (1.33).
Trout reels in walk-off win
Down by three runs to the Rays as the clubs headed into the bottom of the ninth on Thursday, the Angels got an RBI single from Collin Cowgill and then a game-ending three-run homer from Mike Trout.
• The home run -- the first walk-off hit for Trout -- represents the first time a Halos player has delivered a game-ending hit with his team down by at least two runs since Torii Hunter provided a grand slam to beat the Indians 6-4 on April 7, 2008.
• Trout, 22, now has 173 extra-base hits. Since 1914, for players before their 23rd birthday, that total is the 22nd highest. Looking ahead a bit, Trout needs five to match Buddy Lewis, eight to get to Giancarlo Stanton, 10 to reach Frank Robinson and 11 to get to where Joe DiMaggio sits.
To find the last time a Tampa Bay pitcher allowed a game-ending home run while his team was holding a lead of at least two runs, one has to go back to the franchise's inaugural season in 1998, when Roberto Hernandez served up a grand slam to Cleveland's Sandy Alomar in a 10-8 loss.
Introduction to Subway Series
The Mets and Yankees produced the 16th game since 1914 to feature two starting pitchers making their Major League debuts (this includes one Federal League matchup, in 1914). The contest -- which ended 1-0 in favor of the Yankees -- saw Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom take the loss after allowing one run in seven innings with six K's and two walks, and Yanks righty Chase Whitley receive a no-decision after throwing 4 2/3 innings of two-hit ball with four strikeouts and two walks.
• As mentioned, this game marks the 16th since 1914 to feature two starters making their debuts. The last time it had happened was on Sept. 7, 2010, when the Mets' Dillon Gee faced the Nationals' Yunesky Maya. In an interesting connection, deGrom was making his start Thursday in place of Gee.
• Of the previous 15 occurrences, none ended in a 1-0 score. There had been only one instance of a team shutout in the previous 15, with the Braves (behind James Parr) defeating Shairon Martis and the Nats, 2-0, on Sept. 4, 2008.
• According to the Yankees' media notes, the last time the franchise was involved in a contest which featured both starting pitchers making their debuts, the scene took place at Huntington Avenue Baseball Grounds in Boston on Oct. 6, 1908, and saw the Highlanders' Andy O'Connor matched against Red Sox right-hander Doc McMahon. Boston won, 11-3, with McMahon going the distance for the win and O'Connor taking the loss in a complete game; it would be the only Major League appearance for either hurler.
Here and there
• Down, 3-2, as they headed into the bottom of the ninth, the Brewers got a single, two walks and then a game-ending two-run single from Khris Davis to defeat the Pirates, 4-3. With the victory, Milwaukee improved to 26-15 to match the franchise's best 41-game start. The 2007 and '09 Brewers also had 26 wins at this point in the season.
• The Twins defeated the Red Sox, 4-3, in 10 innings, snapping Phil Hughes' personal four-start winning streak. Still, the Minnesota right-hander allowed five hits and a run in six innings, fanned eight and walked none. After his April appearance, Hughes was 0-1 with a 7.20 ERA in three starts. Since then, he is 4-0 in five starts and has posted a 1.95 ERA. During this stretch, Hughes has fanned 23 and walked just one. He is the first pitcher this season to face Boston and emerge with a line that included at last eight strikeouts and no walks, and is only the second right-hander since the start of the 2013 season to do it, joining the Orioles' Chris Tillman from an Aug. 29, 2013, matchup.
Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.