Photo credit: sfexaminer.com
By Jeremy Kahn
SAN FRANCISCO — After missing over a year after Tommy John Surgery, Johnny Cueto looked phenomenal in his season debut.
Cueto went the required five innings, allowing just one hit, walking just and striking out four and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-4 before a crowd of 26,877 at Oracle Park.
With the one-run victory, the Giants are now 34-15 this season in one-run games and their .694 winning percentage is the best in the majors.
The Giants gave Cueto all the runs that he would need in the bottom of the first inning, as Mauricio Dubon singled to lead off the inning, Brandon Belt doubled Dubon to third and after an Evan Longoria strikeout, Stephen Vogt singled both Dubon and Belt for the first two of his four RBIs on the evening.
Kevin Pillar then singled and then Brandon Crawford squirted one thru the infield to score Vogt with the third run of the evening.
Vogt added a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning, as he hit his ninth home run of the season.
The Pirates, who could not muster anything off of Cueto, finally got in the top of the eighth inning with two outs. Kevin Newman got the rally started, then former Giants farmhand Bryan Reynolds singled, and then former Giants outfielder Melky Cabrera doubled down the right-field line to get the Pirates on the board.
Josh Bell then cut the Giants lead down to one, as he launched his 37th home run of the season into the left field bleachers.
Mitch Keller also went five innings, allowing five runs on nine hits, not walking a batter and striking out seven.
Shawn Anderson pitched the final 1.1 innings to notch his first major-league save and his first since pitching for the University of Florida.
NOTES: To make room for Cueto on the 40-man roster, Williams Jerez was designated for assignment.
Cueto is the 62nd different Giants player to suit up this season, the most in the National League and second most in the majors, behind the 63 that put on the uniform of the Seattle Mariners.
The 62 players are the most in Giants history and currently tied for the fourth-most in major league history.
Prior to this season, the Giants’ record for most players in a season was 51 set during the 1990 season.
Bruce Bochy won his 1,996th career game, leaving four shy of the magical 2,000 mark.
Pirates reliever and former Giants pitcher Kyle Crick underwent surgery on the index finger on his right hand as the result of an injury that occurred during an altercation with Felipe Vázquez in the clubhouse.
The behavior exhibited by these two players last night is unacceptable, inconsistent with the standards expected of a Major-League player and will not be tolerated by the organization,” general manager Neal Huntington said in a statement.