AT&T PARK — As Bruce Bochy sat on the stage during his postgame press conference, the veteran skipper had to admit that not even he could’ve imagined just how good Johnny Cueto would be.
“This guy’s done it all and gone beyond what we thought [he’d do],” the manager marveled after Cueto tossed his fourth complete game and the San Francisco Giants improved to an MLB best 54-33. “That’s how good he’s been.”
In the 5-1 win, the Dominican right-hander limited the Colorado Rockies to one run on five hits while punching out eight.
“He’s an artist out there,” Bochy said. “He’s just a special pitcher.”
With his latest gem, Cueto improved to 13-1 on the season and the Giants have now won 16 of his 18 starts.
“He kind of reminds me a little bit of a riverboat gambler,“ Bochy said. “He’s in such control out there — with his body, with his pitches. He’s not afraid of anything or any situation that comes up.”
Thanks to Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, the Giants immediately staked the team’s co-ace to an early lead.
In the first inning, Belt slugged a three-base hit off the brick archways above triples alley to make it 1-0. A batter later, Crawford lined a single to center to drive in the first baseman and double the advantage.
“He’s trying to state a case too,” Bochy said of Belt, who went 2-for-4 as he angles to win the final spot on the National League All-Star roster. “[That was a] huge hit in that first inning to put us on the board. Both Brandons. Crawford came through with the second run [with] a two-out hit.”
The only trouble for Cueto came in the top of the fourth. Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMaheiu delivered back-to-back singles to open the inning, bringing Nolan Arenado to the plate and leaving Cueto in an unenviable spot.
The Rockies third baseman skied a high fly ball to right, but the ball dropped less than a foot wide of the foul line. Cueto proceed to punch out Arenado and allowed only a single run on a fielder’s choice off the bat of Trevor Story.
“He got into the tough jam there and gave up the run on a double-play ball that we couldn’t quite turn,” Bochy said. “But he really hit his spots. He just pitched a beautiful game.”
Afterwards, Cueto revealed that going the distance had been his plan all along.
“I was telling [Santiago] Casilla yesterday that I had not thrown a complete game in a while,” Cueto explained via team translator Erwin Higueros. “So, I guess it’s time for me to throw one.”