Johnny Cueto is coming off his best outing of the season, last Sunday against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The 34-year-old right-hander will look to follow it up with another strong performance against Arizona when the host San Francisco Giants host the Diamondbacks on Sunday in the third contest of a four-game series.
Cueto (2-0, 4.75 ERA) gave up one run and three hits over 6 2/3 innings while taking a no-decision against Arizona in that last game. He struck out six and walked three.
The lone run he allowed came on Eduardo Escobar’s homer with one out in the seventh. Two batters later, he was removed after 106 pitches.
“What continues to fascinate me and us in the dugout is how good he is at locating his pitches even with all the variations in his delivery and how much confidence he gets from using all those variations,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after that outing.
Cueto has fared well against the Diamondbacks in his career with an 11-3 record and 3.03 ERA in 17 career starts. He has shut down left fielder David Peralta (0-for-12) and shortstop Nick Ahmed (0-for-10).
Cueto will be looking to help the Giants beat Arizona for the second straight game after losing the series opener.
San Francisco (19-21) used eight pitchers in Saturday’s 4-3 win with left-hander Tony Watson recording his first save since May of 2017.
Kapler said that may become a trend over the final 20 games of the regular season.
“Certainly every game is really big at this point,” Kapler said afterward. “We’ll start to treat them with that level of urgency. I think you’re just seeing us manage games a little bit more aggressively right now.”
Evan Longoria and Darin Ruf hit back-to-back homers in the second inning off former Giants ace Madison Bumgarner in the victory.
The setback was the 14th in the past 16 games for the Diamondbacks (15-25), who had just six hits and were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
“We fought and did all we could,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said after the loss. “We executed early to score the first run and got a chance to play a little downhill baseball, which was nice. We kept scrapping and doing all we could to close the gap. We just couldn’t get the big hit in the right situation.”
Daulton Varsho had a milestone moment for the Diamondbacks as he lined a shot into McCovey Cove in the seventh inning for his first big-league homer.
“It’s a pretty cool feeling,” Varsho said of the blast. “When I hit it, I was just running out of the box and that was a pretty cool moment to see it go over the wall. … Once I saw it leave the wall, I was like ‘Man, I hit that pretty well.’
“I just didn’t know it landed in the Cove, but it’s pretty cool that I was able to do that.”
Left-hander Alex Young (1-2, 4.50 ERA) is making his fifth start of the season for Arizona. He moved into the rotation after Bumgarner suffered a back injury on Aug. 9.
Young, who turns 27 on Wednesday, is 0-2 during the four-start stretch and hasn’t pitched more than five innings. He gave up four runs (two earned) and six hits in five innings while losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
Young went 2-1 with a 4.11 ERA in three starts against the Giants last season. Longoria (3-for-8) and Brandon Belt (1-for-6) each hit homers off Young.
–Field Level Media