SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — With that familiar flair and flip of his dreadlocks, Johnny Cueto entertained everyone once again. And he dominated like the old days, too.
And oh how the baseball-starved San Francisco fans loved every moment of it.
“I like to perform and pump up the crowd,” Cueto said with a smile.
Cueto got within an out of a complete game, Brandon Crawford broke a scoreless tie with a bases-loaded, two-run double in the seventh inning, and the Giants won their home opener 3-1 against the Colorado Rockies on Friday.
Cueto (1-0) struck out seven, walked one and didn’t allow a hit until Raimel Tapia’s sharp single to left with one out in the fifth following C.J. Cron’s four-pitch walk. The Giants then turned an inning-ending double play.
The animated right-hander shuffled out to start the ninth and promptly gave up a pinch-hit triple to Chris Owings and Garrett Hampson’s sacrifice fly. Manager Gabe Kapler made a mound visit, and the pitcher could be seen shaking his head no — and he stayed in the game. Fans roared and chanted “Johnny! Johnny!”
“He’s a great competitor first of all. He’s passed the time with success, and I do think there’s a little bit of an entertainer aspect to Johnny, and I think that’s a good thing, because he backs it up,” Rockies manager Bud Black said.
“I think he likes being out there. I think he likes the big stage. He’s animated, but the thing that’s the most important thing is he pitches and he competes. He knows what his job is, and I think it’s fine that he does it with a little bit of a flair. I’ve only heard great things about Johnny Cueto.”
Cueto allowed a single to Trevor Story, his fourth hit allowed, and that ended his dominant day. Cueto threw 118 pitches. Jake McGee finished for his third save.