After his near complete-game shutout last week, Johnny Cueto returned to the mound to face off against Reds righty Tyler Mahle Wednesday afternoon in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Another great outing from Cueto (W, 5-2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 Ks) was cut short after an injury in the sixth inning. Fortunately for the Giants (8-4), timely hitting from Austin Slater (1-for-3, 2B, RBI) provided the necessary offense to secure the 3-0 shutout win.
Coming off such a dominant outing in the home opener, Cueto was looking to carry that momentum into his start Wednesday afternoon. He surrendered a leadoff single to Jesse Winker in the top of the first inning but made quick work of the Reds (7-5) after that.
The Giants went down quietly in the bottom of the first, a mostly uneventful inning compared to the slugfest that took place in the first inning Tuesday.
Both offenses were quiet throughout the first half of the game Wednesday. Fast forward to the top of the fifth, and Cueto had set the Reds down in order, as he completed five shutout innings.
Donovan Solano collected the first Giants hit in the bottom of the fifth. Brandon Crawford reached on a dropped fly ball over the third baseman’s head, which resulted in Solano being forced out at second. The next batter, Slater, delivered an RBI double to right-center field, scoring Crawford from first. For the second game in a row, Slater comes through with a big hit into the gap.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler was pleased with the 5-1 home stand, but said he still expects better from his offense:
“This past home stand has been quality across the board, but we still aren’t where we’re going to be as an offense, there’s plenty of room to grow there. We want to continue the pitching performance that we’ve seen, and the defense has been sound.”
Slater advanced to third base on a passed ball. A ground ball in the hole between short and third off the bat of Curt Casali allowed Slater to just get under the tag at home, scoring the second run of the inning for a 2-0 lead.
Cueto retired the first two hitters in the top of the sixth inning before appearing to injure himself after throwing a pitch. He was on-pace to go deep into Wednesday’s game, but departed a lot sooner than anyone would have anticipated.
After being demoted to a bullpen role, rookie Logan Webb came out of the bullpen in the top of the seventh inning and retired the Reds in order.
Tyler Rogers came in for the top of the eighth inning after striking out the side in Tuesday night’s game. He continued to throw the ball well, retiring the Reds in order.
The Giants wanted some insurance runs for good measure. With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Evan Longoria walked, advancing to second on a balk called on the Reds pitcher. Mike Yastrzemski was intentionally walked, which led to Mauricio Dubon dropping a shallow fly ball single over the second baseman’s head, scoring Longoria from second, and giving the Giants a 3-0 lead.
Closer Jake McGee came out for the top of the ninth inning seeking his second save in as many days. A stress-free ninth inning, as McGee does so regularly. The Giants closer shut the door on the Reds, securing back-to-back wins, a three-game series victory, and San Francisco’s third-consecutive series win.
Off to one of their best starts in years, the Giants are overachieving the expectations set by outsiders before the season. Catcher Casali discussed how the Giants will continue to ride the momentum they’ve created:
“We heard the expectations before the season, we read the articles sometimes. It hasn’t really affected the way that we go about playing baseball, we just have a really really good group of guys in that clubhouse, and some older guys who have been around and know how to win. It’s been really really fun to be a part of so far, and getting off to a good start in the big leagues is hard to do. It’s really important that we ride out this momentum that we have to create some separation, stay above .500 and have a winning ball club.”
Following the Giants series victory over the Reds, they will have an off day Thursday before they begin a three-game series in Miami over the weekend against the Marlins. Then they will head to Philadelphia for a three-game series with the Phillies before returning home on April 22.
- An all-right-handed Giants rotation finally gets a left handed pitcher:
- Injury updates: