When Johnny Cueto makes his next start on Monday, it will come at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, the hitter’s yard where he spent the better part of a decade building a comfortable hearth.
But Cueto is a San Francisco Giant now. And on a cold and windy Tuesday night at AT&T Park, he looked perfectly cozy in his new surroundings.
Cueto threw the seventh shutout of his career, turned in the first complete game by a Giant this season and picked up the 100th win of his career, twisting his way to a 1-0 victory over the San Diego Padres.
Cueto raced around the mound with glee in the eighth inning, when he made Wil Myers his 11th strikeout victim and watched as Buster Posey teamed with second baseman Joe Panik to throw out Travis Jankowski trying to steal.
The double play probably saved Cueto enough pitches to take a shot at the shutout in the ninth. He began the inning at 111 pitches, and with Santiago Casilla getting warm in the bullpen, Cueto was able to finish the task without allowing a baserunner.
Right fielder Hunter Pence made a sliding, turf-ripping catch. One more pop up and ground out later, and Cueto had improved to 4-1 with a 2.65 ERA in five starts as a Giant.
As for Zack Greinke, the pitcher the Giants tried to sign for roughly $70 million more? He has a 6.16 ERA in five starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Denard Span hit a booming double in the fifth inning - a home run in most any park, and even an arcade shot here in the afternoon sunshine - to drive in Brandon Crawford with the only run that Cueto required.
Crawford had singled off James Shields and taken second base on Cueto’s sacrifice bunt.
Cueto’s night started with an immediate puzzle to solve when Jon Jay led off the game with a double and took third on a ground out. With the Giants infield partially conceding the run on a ground ball, Cueto managed to pitch away from contact. He got Matt Kemp to swing through a two-strike change-up in the dirt, then escaped the inning when Melvin Upton Jr. grounded out.
Posey helped out Cueto in the fourth after a pair of singles put runners at the corners with one out. Posey made an accurate throw to second base to catch Upton Jr. trying to steal, and then Cueto got Derek Norris to fly out.
Cueto required intercession from a much more distant source to avoid giving up a run in the fifth. The Padres had loaded the bases on a double, a walk and a bunt from James Shields that the pitcher perfectly placed up the third base line for a single.
Jay followed with a sharp grounder to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who recovered after a brief bobble and threw to second base. Despite a quick turn from Joe Panik, umpire Clint Fagan ruled that Jay beat the double-play throw to first base, allowing a run to score.
But for once on this homestand, a replay review went in the Giants’ favour. The video evidence showed the ball in Brandon Belt’s glove an instant before Jay hit the bag, and the call was overturned to end the inning.
If the call had gone against the Giants, Bochy might have dragged a TV monitor onto the field and kicked dirt on it out of principle.
He was still aggrieved one night after a call wasn’t reversed, even though there appeared to be sufficient video evidence that Kemp had trapped a ball in right field. Bochy said he would touch base with Major League Baseball vice president Joe Torre about the Kemp play, something he has done on occasion when confronted with an apparent inconsistency in the replay process.
“I still don’t know how that wasn’t overturned,” Bochy said. “I’m going to check on this one, because that’s a trap. I looked at it quite a bit last night and the ball was against the ground.”
Bochy said he supports the current replay system “for the most part” but does not approve of how the number of challenges is rising as managers become lawyers looking for loopholes on things like slides that might violate the new rule governing baserunners at second base.
“It was supposed to be for calls when it was pretty obvious they missed ‘em,” Bochy said. “At second base now, you see every manager holding up the game to see if the slide was good or if (the runner) came off the bag. Now we’re going overboard and they’re slowing up the game.”
Tim Lincecum has an agreement with the Giants, but it’s much less formal than anything that would involve a contract and a pen.
Lincecum asked and received permission from the Giants to continue his throwing program at the club’s minor league complex in Scottsdale, Ariz. He has been throwing off bullpen mounds there regularly for the past two weeks, Giants GM Bobby Evans said.
“He’s not necessarily only throwing at our facility,” Evans said. “I can’t speak to that. I just know when I gave him permission to come to use our facility, it was two weeks ago.”
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