MILWAUKEE -- The Giants have received the initial return on their investment in right-hander Johnny Cueto, who guided them to a 2-1 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday night.Cueto demonstrated why the Giants saw fit to make a six-year, $130 million commitment to him. He was durable, working seven innings
MILWAUKEE -- The Giants have received the initial return on their investment in right-hander Johnny Cueto, who guided them to a 2-1 victory over the Brewers on Tuesday night.
Cueto demonstrated why the Giants saw fit to make a six-year, $130 million commitment to him. He was durable, working seven innings while surrendering one run and six hits. He was stubborn, preventing the Brewers from capitalizing on their scant scoring opportunities; they went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. He was precise, walking none while issuing 62 strikes in 96 pitches.
And he was triumphant, lasting long enough while receiving just enough offensive support to earn the decision. As a result, the Giants are 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 2010.
For Cueto, who improved his career record to 97-70 with his seventh consecutive victory over Milwaukee, this kind of effort has become commonplace.
"I put it in my mind to go a long way, not just a few innings," Cueto said through an interpreter.
Cueto was a little shaky at the outset. After a perfect first inning, he yielded two hits in each of the next two innings. However, like most expert pitchers, he allowed his defense to assist him.
Singles by Jonathan Lucroy and Chris Carter put Brewers on the corners with nobody out in the second inning. Cueto coaxed Ramon Flores' grounder to shortstop Brandon Crawford, who started a double play as Lucroy scored.
Cueto also survived Jonathan Villar's leadoff double in the third inning. Villar advanced to third base on opposing pitcher Jimmy Nelson's sacrifice bunt but tried to score on Domingo Santana's grounder to Crawford and was thrown out at home plate.
Crawford downplayed his role in the victory.
"I thought it started with Johnny," Crawford said. "He kept [the Brewers] off balance. He got a lot of jam shots and off-the-end-of-the-bat swings tonight."
Said Brewers third baseman Aaron Hill, who went 0-for-3 off Cueto: "You have to be ready. He has the five pitches that he will throw at any time. But on top of that, he has the funky deliveries and messes with your timing. I feel like the guys did good. We swung at good pitches, but we just missed a few balls here and there. That's part of the timing. That ends up being the game."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy attributed the game's brisk pace -- it consumed a mere two hours and 29 minutes -- to Cueto's expertise.
"He has great tempo," Bochy said. "He gets the ball and he goes, even with men on base."
Said a nonchalant Cueto, "I've always worked fast."
Bochy also found significance in Cueto's execution of the fundamentals. On four occasions he covered first base on grounders to the right side to record putouts, which Bochy called "game awareness."
Most of all, of course, Cueto pitched.
"I don't know if I'd consider him a 'nibbler,' but he works on each corner of the plate," Crawford said. "I think that's why guys have trouble squaring him up."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.