CINCINNATI - Orlando Hudson and Ken Griffey Jr. were talking on opening day, and the talk turned to Cincinnati rookie Johnny Cueto.
“Like Griffey told me, he reminded him of a young Pedro,” Hudson said.
Martinez, that is.
“He wasn’t lying, at no point,” Hudson continued.
“If (Cueto) holds up, and I hope he does, he’s going to have a great career.”
It was raining when the game started, but Cueto dried it with his fastball that consistently hit 96 mph on the Great American Ball Park radar gun in his major league debut while pitching Cincinnati to a 3-2 victory over the Diamondbacks.
At 5-foot-10, Cueto is a foot shorter than Randy Johnson, but he had a power package similar to that of vintage Randy, combining an 89 mph slider and an 84 mph change-up while striking out 10 in his seven innings.
He walked one and gave up one hit, Justin Upton’s line-drive home run into the left-field seats leading off the sixth inning that broke up Cueto’s perfect game and cut the Reds’ lead to 3-1.
Upton had faced Cueto before, in the Midwest League in 2005 when Upton was in South Bend and Cueto in Dayton.
“He’s the same guy, with a little better command,” Upton said.
“He was unbelievable two years ago. He has great stuff and pounds the zone. That’s what makes him effective.”
Upton said Cueto was deceptive, to a point.
“He’s a shorter guy and he hides the ball pretty well,” Upton said.
“But 95, 96, it’s all the same. That’s still pretty quick.
Cueto threw first-pitch strikes to 18 of the 22 D-Backs he faced, causing Hudson to draw comparisons to another Cy Young right-hander.
“That’s Jake Peavy-like,” Hudson said.
“He threw me everything in the book. He had everything working today. That’s good for a young pitcher to go out in his first time and do stuff like that.
“He made one mistake, and that was to ‘J Up.’ ”
Cueto, 22, is a protégé of former Reds power pitcher Mario Soto, and Soto served as his interpreter following Thursday’s game.
Were there jitters?
“No,” Cueto said through Soto.
Were you confident?
“Very,” Cueto said.
How did you think you would do?
“I thought I would throw seven shutout innings.”
The D-Backs did not get a hit off three Reds relievers, scoring again after Mark Reynolds, Upton and Robby Hammock walked with one out in the eighth and Alex Romero hit a sacrifice fly.
Reliever Mike Lincoln struck out Chris Young to end the eighth, one of Young’s four strikeouts.
D-Backs starter Doug Davis, making the first of his two scheduled regular-season starts before thyroid cancer surgery on Thursday, walked six in 3 2/3 innings but escaped most of the trouble.
Griffey’s two-out, bloop double down the left-field line started the Reds’ two-run first inning, the second run scoring on Hudson’s fielding error with the bases loaded.
Jeff Keppinger’s homer in the second accounted for the Reds’ only other run.
“I had a hard time getting into a rhythm,” Davis said. “I had a difficult feel for the ball."