San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Cueto Pitches Through Frustration, Pain, Trouble

May 29, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
May 29, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) in the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

On this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss Cueto pitching through adversity, Span showing off the power, and keeping the space.

Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Sunday, the Giants closed their series with the Colorado Rockies with an 8-3 win, finishing off another series victory. Johnny Cueto earned his eighth win of the year, while Chris Rusin was the losing pitcher.

Here’s what went on Sunday.

1 – Johnny Cueto Pitches Through Frustration, Pain, and Trouble

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Johnny Cueto has been one of baseball’s best acquisitions so far this year, and he had another fine outing on Sunday in the always-difficult confines of Coors Field. In six innings, Cueto gave up six hits while giving up two runs (one earned), pitching through plenty of trouble along the way. He stranded six runners on base in the first four innings before settling in and pitching clean innings in the fifth and sixth.

Cueto also had to pitch through plenty of frustration. Cueto has proven to be nothing less than constantly jovial on the mound as a Giant, but he appeared much more rattled on Sunday than at any point in his Giants’ tenure. Home plate umpire Jim Reynolds had an incredibly tight strike zone for any pitcher that took the mound, and it cost Cueto more than once on Sunday.

Johnny Beisbol also got into a mild verbal spat with Gerardo Parra in the third inning as well, when Parra decided he wasn’t ready to face Cueto with the bases loaded. Parra took two timeouts before Cueto even threw a pitch, and Cueto was visibly and understandably upset. He threw his arms up in the air, and Parra did the same. It all turned out to be a much less intense, and more wordy version of the Madison Bumgarner-Joe West staredown from last year.

He also tweaked his back a little in the first inning, and he pitched through a bit of pain the rest of the way. It seems like he’ll be good to go his next time out, Friday in St. Louis.

Cueto dropped his season ERA to 2.31, one of the top-10 totals in baseball, and his WHIP sits at 1.02, 12th-best in baseball. Individual pitcher wins are a flawed statistic, but when you have eight victories in 11 starts, like Cueto does, you’re doing something right.

2 – Denard Span Leaves Earth

Giants’ leadoff hitter Denard Span had a great day at the plate on Sunday, collecting three hits in five at-bats, but his most impressive offensive contribution came in the fourth inning. With the Giants already leading 5-2, not really a comfortable margin in the Rockies’ home park, Span stepped in to lead off the fourth.

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On a 2-1 pitch, Span took the Rockies’ starter Rusin deep to right field, and it was no cheapie. When the ball finally landed after whizzing off the bat at 107 miles per hour, it was in the second deck, 434 feet away from where its journey began, and Span had his second longball of the year. The home run is the third-longest hit by a Giant hitter this year, behind only slugger Hunter Pence, who owns majestic home runs of 455 and 445 feet, respectively.

While Span’s hit was the longest of the day, plenty of Giants’ hitters had nice days. Pence, Buster Posey, and Gregor Blanco each collected three hits. All three of Pence’s were run-scoring doubles. Brandon Belt also picked up two doubles and two RBI. As a team, the Giants hit eight doubles, matching a San Francisco-era Giants’ record they reached three times in 2000.

3 – Giants Keeping Space in Division Race

The Giants are the hottest team in baseball, with 15 wins in their last 17 games. They’ve won five straight series, winning each set since losing two of three to the Toronto Blue Jays. It’s a good thing they’re playing well, because the Los Angeles Dodgers are as well.

The Dodgers pulled off a win on Sunday, marking their sixth win in the last seven games. However, during that stretch the Dodgers have been unable to gain any ground in the division race. When the Giants win, so do the Dodgers. When the Giants lost on Friday, so did the Dodgers. The Giants’ lead in the division remains at 4.5 games, which has been the biggest edge in the division this year.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Posey Double Dips

And that will do it for another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. Up next, I hope you’re ready for some early morning baseball. On Memorial Day, the Giants start a four-game series with the Atlanta Braves with a 10:15 PT (1:15 in Atlanta) start time. Jeff Samardzija takes the mound for the Giants, while the Braves counter with fireballer Mike Foltynewicz.