‘Pitching at its finest’: Johnny Cueto shuts down a potent Houston Astros offense in a 7-0 Chicago White Sox win


Johnny Cueto volunteered to pitch Sunday when the Chicago White Sox wanted assist after starter Michael Kopech exited within the first inning with proper knee discomfort.

Cueto entered within the third in opposition to the Texas Rangers and tossed five innings in the second relief appearance of his 15-season profession.

He was again in his normal starter’s function Saturday in opposition to the Houston Astros and was in full management in opposition to the most effective lineups in baseball.

Cueto allowed two hits, struck out 5 and walked two in seven innings, pitching the Sox to a 7-0 victory in opposition to the Astros in entrance of 36,747 at Minute Maid Park.

“I just tried to keep the ball low in the zone because I know that they can hit,” Cueto mentioned via an interpreter. “I was good with executing.”

A number of hours after the Astros scored 10 runs in one inning during Friday’s 13-3 victory, Cueto saved them off-balance to earn his first win with the Sox.

“(Friday) night was a bad game for us,” Cueto mentioned. “But I always say you need to keep your head up. Keep your head up and be optimistic and come back the next day and try to do your job.”

Cueto (1-3) did simply that.

The solely hits he surrendered have been a Jose Altuve single to middle main off the primary and an Alex Bregman infield single main off the seventh. Both of these runners have been erased on double performs.

Cueto helped the Sox to their first win at Minute Maid Park since May 23, 2019, snapping a streak of seven straight losses — together with two within the 2021 postseason.

“That’s pitching at its finest,” Sox supervisor Tony La Russa mentioned.

Cueto hadn’t obtained a lot run assist since becoming a member of the Sox. That modified Saturday in opposition to Justin Verlander.

The solely right-handed-hitting beginning lineup had success, typically taking the ball the opposite manner.

“We know you are going to have to stay on the ball because he’s a Hall of Famer to be, so I thought it was a very intelligent approach,” La Russa mentioned.

Danny Mendick and Andrew Vaughn singled to proper, loading the bases with one out within the third. Luis Robert introduced two residence with a single to proper for the sport’s first runs.

José Abreu drove in two with a double to left, extending the result in 4-0.

The sizzling hitting continued within the fourth. Josh Harrison singled to proper and scored when Vaughn’s hard-hit grounder went via the legs of second baseman Altuve. Robert had a two-run double down the left-field line, stretching the result in 7-0.

Robert had three hits and 4 RBIs. Vaughn had three hits and scored twice.

“My approach was the same as always,” Robert mentioned via an interpreter. “I just tried to make good contact and put the ball in play.”

Verlander exited after Robert’s hit within the fourth. He allowed seven runs, 4 earned, on 9 hits with three strikeouts in 3⅔ innings. His ERA went from 1.94 to 2.30.

“After that support, I just said ‘OK, I just need to keep the game as it is right now, I need to keep my focus,’ ” Cueto said. “Because sometimes you can lose it. And I was able to do that.”

Cueto’s ERA went from 3.53 to 2.95. He has pitched no less than six innings in every of his six begins.

“With his contribution to what we are doing, that’s how he has pitched his whole career,” La Russa mentioned. “He has given us a tremendous lift.”

The Sox had been held to 3 runs or fewer in 4 of Cueto’s first 5 begins. The one time they surpassed the mark was in his Sox debut May 16 in Kansas City, Mo., the place Robert hit a two-run homer in the 10th for a 5-3 victory.

“It’s nothing personal, Johnny,” La Russa mentioned. “But that’s a makeup (Saturday). Against a guy like Verlander, a lot of really good at-bats. Stringing hits together, hitting down in the count. It was a lot of major-league hitting (Saturday).”

And big-time pitching from Cueto, who mentioned he didn’t really feel any linger results from the aid look.

“I just like to work,” Cueto mentioned. “Work hard, execute, try to keep the ball low in the zone and work hard to stay healthy. That’s the most important thing.”

Sox plan persistence with Yoán Moncada, Giants declare Yermín Mercedes

The Sox performed Saturday with out third baseman Yoán Moncada, who left Friday’s game in the third inning with right hamstring tightness.

“We’re going to wait, wait it out (Sunday) and see how he is Monday,” La Russa mentioned. “Got checked today. There’s something there, but it’s not so much of a problem that we can’t be a little bit patient to see if it comes through. See how he feels.”

Former Sox designated hitter Yermín Mercedes was claimed off of waivers by the San Francisco Giants. Mercedes, who was named the AL Rookie of the Month for April in 2021 however cooled off and was optioned to Charlotte on July 2, was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento.

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