SAN FRANCISCO – Johnny Cueto appeared on the big stage, Curt Casali crossed the finish line as an emergency helper and the Giants defeated athletics 2-0 in the first game of the Bay Bridge Series at Oracle Park on Friday evening.
Cueto pitched seven goalless innings, surrendering five hits with a walk and six strikeouts to improve to 6-3. That was just a little better than Sean Manaea, also 6-3, who gave up a run in the fourth inning and nothing else. He gave up three strikes, went three, and struck seven.
The win for the Giants, 49-26, came on a night they learned that Brandon Belt was going to be out indefinitely with a right knee injury and Buster Posey was scratching his lower back with stiffness about 90 minutes before game time has been.
The good news from manager Gabe Kapler is that Posey’s absence was a premonition and that the catcher is expected back on the line-up on Saturday night. Even better, Casali, who replaced Posey, scored his second home run of the season in the seventh inning against A’s Reliever Cam Bedrosian. The Athletics battling to keep up with the Houston Astros in the American League West fell to 46:32.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: San Francisco Giants 3rd Base Coach Ron Wotus congratulates Curt Casali after his solo home run against the Oakland Athletics in the seventh inning, Friday June 25, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group)
Kapler seemed to have an inkling of what was coming out of Cueto during his pregame talk with the media as the park was fully occupied for the first time and played in front of 36,928 fans .
« He loves the spotlight and he loves the big stage, » said Kapler. “The only thing we know about Johnny is that he is entertaining and emotional every time he’s out there, and we like that. It’s fun to see a guy out there and show us what he’s dealing with and what he’s feeling. I have no doubt that he will put out his version of a show. »
The hitter who gave Cueto the most trouble was Manaea, who had a third inning double and an infield single after coming in with a career hit in 10 at-bats.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Sean Manaea calls for time after scoring in the third inning against the San Francisco Giants during the Bay Bridge first game on Friday, 25th San Francisco, Calif. (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group )
« It was the best fastball he had all season, » said Casali. « His pitches had serious bite. »
Not long after learning he was going to start for Posey, Casali warmed up his starting pitcher and noticed that Cueto had a crack in his crotch.
« He’s a showman. He feeds on it, ”said Casali. “He nodded his head as if glad that there were a lot of people in the crowd. Fans can give us energy. It is really incredible. It gave him an extra level of adrenaline going out and giving us his big stuff. »
Casali has now caught six Giants pitchers shutouts, and while his main goal is to be a solid receiver for his pitching staff, he now swings the bat better after a previous stint on the injured list with a rib injury.
“I have the feeling that I have a certain club speed. I feel like I want to swing the club and swing hard and try to drive the ball, ”said Casali. “My exercises are more fun, my punching exercises are more fun. It’s a shame it took me so long to find out, but as they say, better late than never and I’m just excited to be able to contribute on both sides of the ball. »
The Giants only prevailed against Manaea in the fourth inning of Brandon Crawford’s double single, which Wilmer Flores brought home.
Flores was the first Giants player to double-out to the left in second base against Manaea. Flores played with a sore hamstring and managed to chug onto the second base, and given the way he ran, it wasn’t sure he would score on a single.
Crawford separated cleanly but gently on left field and gave Flores enough time to find his way to home plate for a 1-0 lead for the Giants.
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 25: San Francisco Giants’ Brandon Crawford hits an RBI single to score Wilmer Flores in the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics on Friday June 25, 2021 at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif (Karl Mondon / Bay Area News Group)
Cueto enchanted the A’s similar to Manaea, whereby the opposing pitcher’s surprising two-out double-to-right field led to a bases-loaded situation with two outs. Cueto came out of the inning by getting Matt Olson to fly into the center.
Cueto’s hill turns were kept to a relative minimum as he worked to be precise for track and field hitters.
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« Oakland has a very good team so I just focused on the hitters, didn’t want to leave anything in the middle of the plate, » Cueto said of a translator. « I’ve hung here and there a few times, but Oakland has a very good team. »
Cueto even appeared to be enjoying visits from referees who had been examining him for foreign substances under Major League rules since June 21.
« I really didn’t mind, » said Cueto. « It’s a job they have to do, so I might as well have fun with it. »
– The Giants had lost nine of their last 12 games against the Athletics at Oracle Park.
– Recalled from Sacramento, LaMonte Wade Jr. jumped into the game instead of Darin Ruf and flew to the middle in his only at-bat.
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