Giants, Kapler look on bright side of Cueto's rough return

Giants' Johnny Cueto

Johnny Cueto's return from the injured list was not what the Giants envisioned.

In his first start since April 14, Cueto allowed eight hits and five earned runs in three innings of work Sunday at Oracle Park. The Giants couldn't recover from the early hole, losing 11-1 to the San Diego Padres.

Cueto topped out at 94 mph with his four-seam fastball and 94.5 with his sinker, according to Baseball Savant. He threw 39 of his 64 pitches for strikes, and the Giants were largely pleased with how he looked on the mound, even if the results didn't follow.

"The first thing we noticed was the stuff was there," Giants manager Gabe Kapler told reporters in a postgame video conference. "So he came back with life on his pitches ... so no concerns there, that was good. He looked healthy. He clearly fielded his position well, he was athletic off the mound. And I think early on, there were some balls that got through, and I think sometimes that can spiral a little bit.

"And there were some mistakes as well. But we saw a healthy pitcher. We saw a pitcher who had life on his stuff."

Cueto allowed a leadoff single to Fernando Tatis Jr. in the first, retiring the next three batters he faced. He ran into trouble in the second, allowing homers to Jake Cronenworth and Tatis Jr.


In the third, Cueto allowed three straight hits and another run before walking Cronenworth to load the bases. Cueto then retired each of the next three batters he faced, needing only 13 pitches.

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After Sunday's start, Cueto now boasts a 3.52 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. He was at 1.80 and 0.85 in his first three starts before sustaining a lat strain, and Kapler seemed to believe a healthy Cueto won't need long to get back in a similar rhythm.

Despite the loss, the Giants still ended Sunday with the NL West's best record (20-14) and just a half-game behind the National League-leading St. Louis Cardinals (21-14)

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