Photo credit: @SFGiants
By Jeremy Kahn
Johnny Cueto continues looks amazing out of the gate, and Brandon Belt set a major-league record, and he continues to stay hot.
Cueto went six innings, allowing just two hits, walking two and striking out seven and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 at Angel Stadium Sunday.
With the victory, the Giants won their first series of the season, as they ended their road trip thru San Diego, Arizona and Anaheim with a 4-6 record.
Not only did Cueto pitch another great game, he saw his earned run average drop to a minuscule 0.35 and his consecutive game streak of allowing one run or less raise to four, he was also on the back end of a fantastic double play.
With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, Luis Valbuena hit a grounder to Belt, who threw to Brandon Crawford for the first out and then threw to Cueto to complete the double play and you saw Cueto pump his fist and yelled in happiness.
Belt, who hit a home run for the fourth consecutive game to lead off the top of the fourth inning, set a major league record in the first inning.
After Joe Panik singled to left, Belt settled in at the plate and his duel with Angels starter Jaime Barria was one of epic proportions.
Belt fouled off 11 consecutive pitches from Barria, in the longest at-bat since records for pitches began in 1988. In all, Belt saw 21 pitches from Barria, breaking the record of 20 that was held by Ricky Gutierrez of the Houston Astros, who eventually struck out against Bartolo Colon of the Cleveland Indians.
All in all, the at-bat lasted 12 minutes and 45 seconds, as he ended up flying out to Kole Calhoun in right field.
In his three at-bats, Belt saw 38 pitches, as he singled in the top of the third inning and then launched a 410-foot home run off of Blake Palmer to lead off the fifth inning.
Cueto took a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth inning, as he struck out Shohei Ohtani twice on the afternoon.
Ian Kinsler broke up Cueto’s chance at a no-hitter in the bottom of the sixth inning, then Ohtani singled to load the bases, but then Valbuena grounded into the double play that ended the threat.
Evan Longoria continues to find his hitting stroke, as he hit a two-run home run in the top of the third inning.
The Giants got on the board just prior to Longoria’s home run, as Panik scored from third base on a Buster Posey double play. Belt also scored on the Longoria home run.
Mike Trout put the Angels on the board in the bottom of the eighth inning, as he hit his major-league leading ninth home run of the season and third of the series. Trout’s two-run home run went to the opposite field off of reliever Cory Gearrin.
The Angels put runners on the corners with two outs and with Trout in the on-deck circle, but Hunter Strickland got Kinsler to fly out to Gregor Blanco for the final out.
Barrie, who threw those 21 pitches to Belt in the top of the first inning, went just two innings, as he loaded the bases with nobody out and was replaced by Noe Ramirez.
Barria gave up two runs on six hits, walked one and also struck out one, as he retired only six batters and threw a whopping 77 pitches.
In that first inning, Barria threw 49 pitches and was able to get out of the inning without allowing a run, as he loaded the bases on three singles; however, he retired Longoria and Pablo Sandoval to get out of the inning unscathed.
NOTES: Chris Stratton opens up the Giants’ homestand on Monday night against the Washington Nationals, as he takes the mound against former Oakland A’s pitcher Gio Gonzalez.
UP NEXT: Series opener between the Giants and Nationals is scheduled for Monday, April 23 at 7:15 pm PT.