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Cueto hammered early, Giants unable to come back despite solid relief efforts

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In his fourth start since returning from Tommy John surgery, Johnny Cueto had something of a meltdown facing the playoff-bound Dodgers.

Thus, after just two innings, it became a bullpen game for the Giants.

If anything good came from the 9-2 boat race defeat it was that before Los Angeles (104-56) turned Bruce Bochy’s final Orange Friday into a farce, some of the more recent additions to San Francisco’s bullpen had the opportunity to put up solid outings. They did so in the interest of pride, which is all the 2019 Giants (77-83) have left to play for.

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

In just one inning, Cueto (L, 1-2, 5.06 ERA) allowed five runs on a walk and five hits, including a double, a triple and three very hard-hit bombs over the wall at Levi’s Landing. Perhaps most concerning was the fact that it was only the second when he fell apart, largely overshadowing a 1-2-3 shutdown first.

Of the outing, Bochy said:

“He was wild in the strike zone, a couple of those changeups came back and stayed in the nitro zone and then he didn’t quite get the fastball where he wanted and they took advantage of it. So that’s a rough inning for him.”

The first two homers were on back-to-back pitches to Cody Bellinger (47) and Cory Seager (19), each with exit velocities over 106-mph. The third, a two-run jack, jumped off Joc Pederson‘s bat at 108.8-mph for a water landing in McCovey Cove (36). 

It wasn’t pretty and Bochy decided to call it quits on the shimmying righty’s final start of the season just 47 pitches in:

“That’s a lot of work for two innings, so that was far enough.”

Cueto’s first two outings since coming back from rehab were quite encouraging. Over 10 innings, he had allowed just four hits and had yet to allow a run, though he walked three. Saturday’s start in Atlanta presented a hitch when he gave up two hits and five free passes over just four innings for four runs. 

After that start, he said he felt a twinge in his side but said that was not an issue Friday. Through translator Erwin Higueros, Cueto said he will take his four starts in September as a net positive going into the winter, regardless of how the box scores look:

“This is a long process. I had Tommy John. What I wanted to do was just see how I felt. I’m not gonna worry too much about the result, I had two good outings and two bad outings, but hopefully moving forward next year, I’ll be fine.

But with pride at stake on both sides of the ball, San Francisco’s bullpen combined to provide five consecutive innings of shutout ball, and a sixth in the ninth, offering Giants bats a reasonable chance to come back.

The opportunity went to waste with 17 stranded runners, tying a San Francisco-era Giants record for nine-inning games last matched in June of 2017. Ten of the stranded runners were left in scoring position, and the Giants scored only twice despite eight hits and eight walks.

Wandy Peralta, who was released by the Reds three weeks ago, took the ball for Cueto in the third and pitched two innings of scoreless, one-hit ball before handing the baton, and a 5-2 deficit, to rookie Sam Selman. 

Selman held the Dodgers hitless for another two innings of his own, and Kyle Barraclough and Andy Suárez kept the dream alive combining to keep the Dodgers off the board through the seventh.

But Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler (W, 13-4, 3.26 ERA) successfully limited the Giants two just two runs on five hits and they did no better against LA’s bullpen. 

San Francisco’s only two runs came when Buehler, who allowed a career-high four free passes over six innings, opened the second and third with walks to Kevin Pillar and Brandon Belt, respectively. Both ultimately crossed the plate on sacrifice flies, but that was all the Giants could muster.

Belt drew two more walks Friday, Nos. 500 and 501 of his career, putting his career tally at 45,090 free feet.

Los Angeles finally broke through for a four-run eighth at the expense of Shaun Anderson, but it was largely irrelevant.

Next

The Giants will play game two of three in their final series of the season Saturday. Rookie Logan Webb (2-2, 5.61 ERA) will face Dodgers lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-5, 2.41 ERA).

Notes

Madison Bumgarner was originally penciled in to take the mound Sunday in his skipper’s final game as a manager, and potentially the big lefty’s final start as a Giant as he enters free agency this offseason. But Bochy announced after Friday’s contest that Bumgarner will not pitch in the season finale:

“I talked to him and we discussed the whole thing. I’d just as soon have him hang with me and watch the game with me. I didn’t want him to feel like he had to get out there. We’re covered on the pitching side, so I’d just as soon have him help me manage on the bench.”

Bochy said he hopes to give some of the younger pitchers a chance to show their wares Sunday, and Dereck Rodríguez is likely for the start. … Pillar was presented with the 40th annual Willie Mac Award ahead of Friday’s contest.


Kevin Pillar named 2019 Willie Mac Award winner

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