Friday, June 10, 2011
UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave while watching Johnny Cueto devour the San Francisco, making me hungry for a day in The City by the Bay:
BREAKFAST at Mama’s on Washington Square: eggs benedict, French toast, orange juice, pot of coffee, whole wheat toast.
LUNCH at Lori’s Diner, a 1950s throwback: Edsel Burger with swiss cheese and fried onions, French fries, vanilla milkshake served in the silver metal container they use on the mixer.
DINNER at Scoma’s in Sausalito: New England clam chowder, Cesar’s salad, sea scallops, sourdough bread, Anchor Steam beer, cheesecake.
BED-TIME SNACK: two Akla-Seltzer’s and a Pepcid.
FOR MOST OF Johnny Cueto’s still-developing career, he has been so excitable he made caffeine nervous. At the first sign of trouble, he collapsed like a sand castle under a beach bully’s foot.
No more. The kid is as cool under fire as the San Francisco Fire Department and Thursday night against the San Francisco Giants was a printout of perfection.
The Cincinnati Reds scored a 3-0 victory against the defending World Series champions and NL West leaders during the first game of a seven-game trip that could be Trip Terrible if the Reds aren’t careful.
They were very careful Thursday to hit the ground with both feet, led by the smooth and calm performance by Cueto. He pitched seven shutout innings, gave up four hits, struck out eight and walked only two.
Both Cueto’s walks came in the first inning and it was an uh-oh beginning when he walked the first batter on four pitches. But that batter, Andres Torres was caught stealing, a fortunate occurrence, because Miguel Tejada then doubled. Freddy Sanchez grounded out, but Cueto walked Aubrey Huff — so three of the first four Giants reached base. That threat died when Nate Schierholtz popped to short.
From there Cueto was The Big Boss.
HE RETIRED SEVEN straight, three straight via strikeouts in the third inning.
Cueto’s newfound courage surfaced again in the fourth when he gave up two of his four hits, back-to-back singles to open the inning. He retired the next two, but fell 3-and-0 behind rookie Brandon Crawford. Inexplicably, Crawford swung at the 3-and-0 and flied to left.
A nice Chablis would be a nice gift for Cueto to send to Crawford.
Cueto worked with a 1-0 lead for his seven innings and 110 pitches. And he was battling umpire Tim Welke, too. His strike zone was smaller than a breadbox.
His opponent, lefty Madison Baumgarner, was nearly as stingy. But Baumgarner’s teammates provide him no aid or comfort. He came into the game with a 3.85 ERA, but a 2-7 record because his offense scores 2.6 runs a game when he pitches. On this night, they scored 2.6 runs fewer than the average.
THE REDS SCORED a run in the fourth with two outs and nobody on. Scott Rolen, playing his first game after missing four with a viral infections, doubled to right center and Jonny Gomes brought him home with a single.
Gomes had three hits but committed an extremely rare omission of hustle on his third hit. Leading off the seventh, Gomes blooped one to shallow right and it appeared foul, so Gomes stood and watched. But a stiff breeze blew the ball into fair territory and it plopped to the ground. Gomes made first base, but should have been on second.
Edgar Renteria, who was presented his World Series ring in a pre-game ceremony by the Giants (He was the World Series MVP, too), bunted for a single. With two on and no outs, Ramon Hernandez bounced into a double play and the Reds didn’t score.
There was a curious non-move by manager Dusty Baker in the Reds third when it was still 0-0. Hernandez and Cueto both reached base — two on, no outs. Shouldn’t Drew Stubbs bunt, especially in a pitcher’s park where runs are as scarce as street people with Starbucks cards? He let Stubbs swing away and he struck out. Brandon Phillips hit into a double play. No runs.
AFTER CUETO left, the Reds faced the Giants bullpen, which hadn’t given up a run in 17 innings. They scored one in the eighth when Gomes swung and missed a pitch in the dirt that skipped to the backstop, permitting Rolen to score, and one in the ninth on a single by Phillips.
Nick Masset pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Coco Cordero pitched a pressureless ninth and went 1-2-3 for his 12th save in 14 opportunities.
One down, six to go.Tweet