Giants bats come alive, including Cueto’s, in win over Snakes 8-4

April 4, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants’ Hunter Pence, middle, celebrates with Brandon Crawford, left, after Crawford hit a home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 4, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

By DANIEL DULLUM
Sports Radio Service
Tuesday, April 4, 2017

PHOENIX, Ariz. – On the mound and on the basepaths, Johnny Cueto was getting it done Tuesday for San Francisco.

Cueto’s dash home from second was one of many highlights in a five-run fifth inning Tuesday, as the Giants pounded out an 8-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field.

“It’s not easy,” Cueto said through Giants interpreter Erwin Higueros. “But I’m just happy everything worked out for me tonight.”

Last season, Cueto (1-0) was 18-5 with a 2.79 in his first season with San Francisco. He’s 10-3 in 14 career starts against the D-Backs. Cueto gave up four earned runs on six hits and two walks in five innings, but also struck out five.

Plus, Cueto was 1-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI.

“I feel very happy about those wins, but it wasn’t by myself. It’s a team effort with all of the guys,” Cueto said. “They help me a lot.”

“That had to be one of his top games offensively,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Cueto. “He helped us out with the bat, running the bases. He was moving pretty good, wasn’t he?”

The Giants used a 15-hit attack and, besides the eight runs, stranded 13 runners. Hunter Pence and Joe Panik each had three hits, while emergency starter Gorkys Hernandez, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Eduardo Nunez each collected two hits.

Brandon Crawford extended San Francisco’s lead to 4-2 in the top of the fifth, greeting D-Backs reliever Randall Delgado with a towering drive just inside the right-field foul pole for his first home run of the season.

Crawford’s blast provided the spark for San Francisco to bat around, sending 10 hitters to the plate in the fifth. Cueto drove in a run when he reached on an infield error to extend the rally, and scored from first when Gorkys Hernandez hit a two-RBI single.

“I took off running really hard, it was on my own,” Cueto said. “Then they told me to slow down – it’s the second game of the season – but my instincts took over.”

There was a question of whether or not Cueto touched the plate on the play, but the Giants pitcher insisted he did, saying, “

“He was moving pretty good, wasn’t he?” Bochy asked. “He could be my pinch-runner. I may have to race he and Shark (Jeff Samardzija); that might be a close one.

“That might have taken something out of him,” Bochy continued. “He did a nice job, but his count jumped up (94 pitches).”

Asked which of the other Giants starters he could beat in a race, Cueto said, “Samardzija is the fastest, then Bumgarner, so I think I’m the fifth-fastest!”

Hernandez, filling in for Denard Span (sore hip), was 2-for-5 with four runs batted in.

“Gordys wasn’t scheduled to play, but we had to inset him in the lineup and he did a terrific job,” Bochy said. “Four RBIs, gives you great defense. He got a couple of big hits.

“What really helped Gordys was this spring, when he went over to the minor league side and got some more at-bats. He got his timing back, and now you’re seeing the guy we got last year.”

Bochy added, “The bench plays such an important role in your season, and those guys need to come through for you. It makes it easier to rest guys and softens the blow of losing a regular.”

Brandon Belt doubled in a run to finish the damage against Delgado, who was replaced by Archie Bradley two batters later.

Arizona battled back in the fifth with a two-run homer by Lamb into the right-center field swimming pool.

Cueto didn’t think he had tired at that point, explaining, “I think I left a couple of pitches up high, and I paid the price for it.”

Bradley, meanwhile, did his part to try and keep the D-Backs in the game, striking out seven in 3 1/3 scoreless innings.

Though the Arizona roof fell in on Delgado, it was D-Backs starter Patrick Corbin (0-1) who took the loss. Corbin gave up three runs – two earned – on seven hits in four innings.

A two-RBI single by Hernandez put San Francisco ahead 2-0 in the top of the second. Singles by Eduardo Nunez, Joe Panik and Johnny Cueto loaded the bases with one out. Cueto pulled back from a bunt attempt and pushed a drive past Goldschmidt.

“I just felt that (Goldschmidt) was coming up too close to me, so I decided to swing away,” Cueto said.

“When he pulled back on the bunt, he couldn’t have chopped a ball better over Goldschmidt’s head,” Bochy said. “That’s something we work on and Johnny did a great job on that.”

Hernandez then delivered a slow-floating bloop single to shallow right field, falling between D-Backs second baseman Brandon Drury and right-fielder David Peralta.

In the Giants third, Buster Posey reached on an error, went to third on Brandon Crawford’s double to left-center, but was caught in a rundown between third and home on a bouncer to short by Nunez. Crawford scored San Francisco’s third run on a sacrifice fly to right by Chris Marrero.

Paul Goldschmidt put the Diamondbacks on the board when he led off the fourth with a line drive home run to left, his first of the season. After Jake Lamb walked and Drury singled, Chris Owings singled to left, driving in Lamb with the D-Backs’ second run.

The series continues Wednesday, with left-hander Matt Moore on the mound for San Francisco, facing D-Backs’ right-hander Dijuan Walker.

“This was a good bounce-back game for us after losing a tough opener,” Bochy said. “To come back and play well like this, it was a good game for us.”

GIANT JOTTINGS: The Giants are opening their regular season in Phoenix for the fourth time in the last six seasons (also 2012, 2014 and 2015). … Elias Sports reports that when P Madison Bumgarner struck out 11 on Sunday, it was the most by a Giants pitcher on Opening Day since the mound was moved to its present distance of 60 feet, six inches in 1893. …
Paul Goldschmidt tied ex-Giant Steve Finley for second place on Arizona’s all-time hit list when he homered in the fourth inning. Finley collected 847 hits as a D-Back. Goldschmidt also needs one steal to reach the 100 home run/100 stolen base club for first basemen. … Jake Lamb’s home run into the swimming pool was the 32nd-ever by a D-Back, 56th overall. … Torey Lovullo is the third Diamondbacks manager to win in his debut. The other two were Bob Brenley (April 3, 2001 vs. L.A. Dodgers) and Kirk Gibson (July 2, 2010 vs. L.A. Dodgers).

TAGS: San Francisco Giants,Johnny Cueto,Brandon Crawford,Gorkys Hernandez,Arizona Diamondbacks,Sports Radio Service,Daniel Dullum

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