San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Ho Hum, Another Cueto Gem

May 22, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants outfielder Denard Span (2) is congratulated by teammates after defeating the Chicago Cubs 1-0 at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
May 22, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants outfielder Denard Span (2) is congratulated by teammates after defeating the Chicago Cubs 1-0 at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

In this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss Cueto being Cueto, offensive weirdness, and a couple of injuries.

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Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Monday, the Giants opened a series with the San Diego Padres with a dramatic 1-0 walk-off win. Johnny Cueto earned his seventh win for the Giants, while Brad Hand took his first loss of the year for the Padres.

The Giants are on a modest three-game winning streak, but have less-than-modestly won 12 of their last 13 contests. They have won six consecutive one-run ballgames after dropping five of their first nine such games. They remain atop the National League West at 28-19, 4.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are 23-23 and leapfrogged the Colorado Rockies in the standings.

Here’s what went on Monday.

1 – Johnny Cueto Great, but What Else is New?

Can Johnny Cueto face the Padres every game? On Monday, he matched up with San Diego for the third time this season, and threw his third complete game against them. With nine shutout innings in the series opener, Cueto has now allowed one run to the Padres in 27 innings.

Cueto’s ERA dropped to 2.38 in 10 starts, and his WHIP fell below one, down to 0.991. 35 of his 75.2 innings this year have been perfect, 1-2-3 frames. There is no statistic to describe how much fun this 30-year-old pitcher is to watch, or how much fun he has on the mound. What a fantastic acquisition Cueto has been about one-third of the way through his first season with the Giants.

2 – Giants’ Offense Works In Mysterious Ways

Even-year Giants have been known to win games in the wackiest of ways, and Monday’s walk-off victory can certainly be described as “wacky”. The game was locked in a scoreless tie when Cueto walked off the mound after his half of the ninth inning, and with Cueto sitting at 114 pitches, the offense had one more chance to get a run for their starter.

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With Hand on the mound, Brandon Belt opened the inning with a bloop single that just fell out of the reach of Padres’ shortstop Alexei Ramirez. Brandon Crawford struck out and Gregor Blanco popped out, leaving it up to pinch-hitter Hunter Pence, whose sore hamstring kept him out of the starting lineup. On the second pitch of the at-bat, Pence lofted a high flyball into right field.

Pence was aided by two things: the wind that pushed that ball, and the fact that Matt Kemp, who isn’t a very good defensive player to begin with, was playing extremely deep and had to run a long way to get to it. The ball was pushed back towards the infield, and bounced off the turf before hitting Kemp’s leg and rolling away from everyone. Belt turned on the jets and scored easily, sending everyone home happy.

The Giants have made a habit of making things not look pretty, but being effective as heck. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good.

3 – Update on Ryan Vogelsong

Let’s shift gears away from current Giants for a second, and talk about a former Giant, Ryan Vogelsong. The Pittsburgh Pirates’ pitcher has mostly been working out of the bullpen this year, but was called upon for a spot start on Monday. In the second inning, Vogelsong stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. Rockies’ pitcher Jordan Lyles pulled a fastball way inside, and Vogelsong was struck in his face.

The video is difficult to watch, so I won’t link to it. The injury is to the “eye itself” and including the orbital bone around it, as Pirates’ beat writer Adam Berry mentioned on twitter. Vogelsong’s wife, Nicole, provided some good news later in the night on twitter, saying that her husband “is stable and will be ok”, and that the Pirates will have further updates today.

Vogey was a great Giant, and everyone should be pulling for him. Hopefully, he will be back on a mound, and soon.

4 – Sergio Romo Returns to the Mound

One final, quick note, Giants’ reliever Sergio Romo began his rehab assignment yesterday with the Sacramento River Cats as he continues to return from a flexor strain. In one inning of work, Romo struck out the side, but did give up a home run to Milwaukee Brewers’ top prospect Orlando Arcia, who is a future star if prospect rankings are to be believed. The Giants are eyeing next week, during their series with the Atlanta Braves, for his return.

River Cats’ pitcher Joan Gregorio, one of the Giants’ better pitching prospects, started the game, throwing five innings of one-run ball, striking out eight while allowing just two hits. He took a no-decision.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Bumgarner, Defense Do Their Things

That’ll do it for this edition of the Giants Morning Minute. Up next, the Giants and Padres continue their series with game two. Jeff Samardzija looks to keep pace with his rotation buddies Madison Bumgarner and Cueto, while Andrew Cashner takes the bump for San Diego.