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Cueto cruises, Giants edge Marlins behind wild eighth-inning rally

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Since returning from Tommy John surgery 10 days ago Johnny Cueto (ND, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) has maintained a flawless ERA and is undefeated — he’s thrown 140 pitches and allowed just four hits in 10 innings.

Cueto looked in line to be rewarded with a win for the second gem of his very short season, but a two-base throwing error from Evan Longoria and a leaky Giants bullpen robbed him of the decision, and San Francisco would have to settle for, quite literally, a wild eighth-inning from Ryne Stanek, to rally and secure a 2-1 victory.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.

Stanek took the ball from Jarlin García (L, 3-2, 2.93 ERA) who gave up consecutive singles to Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt. Stanek then threw a wild pitch on his way to walking Longoria and another to Brandon Crawford to score Yastrzemski and set Will Smith (S, 33, 2.95 ERA) up for his first save since being benched with back tightness September 13.

Of the decision to go Yaz said:

“Me and [third base coach Ron Wotus] had talked about it right before that at-bat saying that if there’s a chance to get there then to take it. I just kind of got lucky with the way that it bounced.”

Giants manager Bruce Bochy was grateful that Yastrzemski managed to come up in a big spot with the single to get things going, not to mention the instinct to run on the wild pitch:

“In that situation, you gotta be aggressive and he was waiting for the ball in the dirt. That’s a pitch that can bounce away, it’s probably one of the tougher pitches to block and [Yastzemski] got a great jump and we got what we call an RTI — run thrown in — and we needed it.”

Like Cueto, Marlins (52-96) starter Elieser Hernández (3-5, 5.03 ERA) was dominant Sunday. Both allowed just three hits over five innings and Hernández racked up a career-high nine strikeouts. The only difference was a third-inning solo homer off the bat of Mauricio Dubón (3).

Cueto threw very economically — only 7 of 19 batters he faced saw more than three pitches. His only stressful inning was a 31-pitch fourth when Starlin Castro beat the shift with a roller up the first-base line for a leadoff single, then moved to second when Neil Walker — well, walked. But the Marlins failed to cash in, that inning or any other against Cueto.

Bochy said Cueto excels at pitching through traffic like that:

“He made the pitches when he had to, and that’s what he so good at, that’s what makes him great. He’s got that quality, he just commands the ball, cuts it and mixes up his delivery, and that works.”

Cueto is coming off a one-hit, no-run performance Tuesday against the Pirates and Bochy said he’s pleasantly surprised with how things seem to have gone off without a hitch for the shimmying hurler right out of the gate. He said he thinks Cueto might be pitching even better than before he had surgery:

“I don’t know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this. But you look at how he’s throwing the ball — this is Johnny before the surgery, four pitches with command. …his arm strength I think is even a little bit better than where it was before he had surgery.”

Burch Smith came out for his fifth outing in a Giants (71-78) uniform in the sixth and after 1-1/3 hitless innings Magneuris Sierra bunted down the third base line for a single. In his hurry to try to make the play, Longoria threw wildly and the ball ended up near the visiting bullpen mounds, handing Sierra 180 feet for free. 

Marlins right fielder Jon Berti, who’s been scuffling of late, then knocked his second single of the game to tie it up. 

Tyler Rogers (W, 2-0, 1.59 ERA) pitched a flawless eighth for the win.

Up Next

The Giants embark on a two-city east-coast road trip, opening a three-game series with the Red Sox Monday. Logan Webb (1-2, 6.75 ERA) will make his sixth career big league start facing righty Nathan Eovaldi (1-0, 5.81 ERA). Webb struggled in his last two outings allowing four runs on seven hits against Pittsburgh Wednesday over 4-2/3 innings, and eight runs on eight hits over 2-2/3 Sept. 5 against St. Louis.

After Boston, the Giants will fly to Atlanta for three games with the Braves before coming home for their final homestand of 2019.

Notes

Both Alex Dickerson (right oblique) and Smith (back tightness) made their first appearances since being benched with injuries. Smith had been out since Sept. 13, Dickerson since Sept. 4. 


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