Johnny Cueto

Watch Bruce Bochy's speech to Giants, toast after historic 2,000th win

Watch Bruce Bochy's speech to Giants, toast after historic 2,000th win

Giants manager Bruce Bochy accomplished something Wednesday night at Fenway Park that only 10 others in baseball history had done before.

The 64-year-old won his 2,000th game as a big league manager thanks to San Francisco's 11-3 win over the Boston Red Sox, and celebrated with his club in the visiting clubhouse. Bochy's players and coaching staff toasted him with champagne, and then the veteran skipper thanked his team for helping him reach the milestone. 

Giants starting pitcher Johnny Cueto documented it all on Instagram, including Bochy's brief shower of bubbly.

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2000 Wins!!! 🎊🎉🎊🎊🍾🍾🍾

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"It's a number, and I don't know what the number means," Bochy told the Giants. "I think a couple things. I've been blessed to be doing this as long as I've been doing it, but it's a number that all of you are a part of, trust me. I'm riding the backs of you guys. I look at the support from ownership, the front office, the players, this coaching staff ... I can't thank you guys enough, and hopefully when you look at this number, you know you're part of it because you are. 

" ... I'm not going to get emotional here, but (2,000 wins) is not what was on my mind -- I swear to you -- this year. It was more us getting (to the playoffs) and for you guys to do what you did in July to get back into this thing and for this to happen, I can't thank you enough. Thank you."

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Bochy's players couldn't thank him enough, either. Catcher Stephen Vogt is in his first season with the Giants and his only one playing for Bochy, and he said the team's toast to the legendary manager was a fitting tribute. 

"This is something you want to do for a manager who's been around and given so much time to his players over the last 25 years," Vogt told reporters in Boston (H/T San Francisco Chronicle). "If you know anything about this game, it's every day. It's sacrifice. It's giving time away from your family in order to achieve greatness, and he's one of 11 at the top of the list. There's a lot more than just winning baseball games that went into tonight."

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're at all surprised by Johnny Cueto's first two starts back from Tommy John surgery, you probably shouldn't be. 

After all, this is a pitcher who had a 0.84 ERA through the end of April last season when he felt constant pain in his elbow and knew that surgery could be in his near future. Cueto found a way to fool hitters back then, and the Giants were always optimistic that he would find his form once he returned. Even by that standard, though, the first two starts have been impressive. 

Cueto threw five more shutout innings Sunday, giving him 10 scoreless frames in his return. He has allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out six. He would have picked up a second win Sunday, but the bullpen temporarily coughed up the lead. The Giants would go on to beat the Marlins 2-1 when Mike Yastrzemski dashed home on a wild pitch in the eighth. 

"I don't know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this, but you look at how he's throwing the ball and it's Johnny before his surgery," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's four pitches with command. He commands the ball, cuts it, mixes up his delivery -- and that works."

The Giants needed every scoreless inning, because right now they're out there with a lineup that's providing absolutely no punch. Cueto did his best to make an early Mauricio Dubon homer hold up, and he showed a sense of the moment as his day was coming to a close. 

Cueto had a long fourth inning and was 10 pitches from his predetermined count when he went out for the fifth. The bullpen was humming, but Cueto got through the inning on just six pitches. Then he popped into the dugout and asked Bochy for the sixth. 

"It was like Johnny knew it," Bochy said. "He got some quick outs."

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Bochy joked that he would let Cueto go 120 pitches if possible, but the restraints are still on and will be for the rest of this season. Cueto could get to 80-85 pitches in his next start and said he hopes to be cleared for 100 in his season finale. With the way he's throwing right now, that might be enough to take a shot at a shutout. 

Giants' Johnny Cueto is nearly flawless in long-awaited return to mound

Giants' Johnny Cueto is nearly flawless in long-awaited return to mound

SAN FRANCISCO -- The final pitch, the 69th of Johnny Cueto's first night back, reminded the Giants of everything they've been missing over the past 13 months. 

There was the brief hesitation at the top of his delivery and an exaggerated turn away from the batter, a bit of flair that's lacking with most of today's pitchers. Then came the pitch, an 81 mph changeup that was right across the heart of the plate but had far too much movement to do anything but miss Kevin Kramer's bat. Finally, there was the whirling fist pump and that familiar smile, a reminder that nobody has more fun on the mound than Johnny Cueto. 

The first night back from Tommy John surgery was a success in every way. Cueto allowed just one hit over five shutout innings, striking out four and showing his old velocity and repertoire. The former staff co-ace got right back in the win column, too. The Giants beat the Pirates, 5-4

“That was Johnny like we know,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “For him to go out there and do this his first outing, that’s pretty impressive.”

There was nothing about Cueto’s start, other than the emotion, to indicate that this was any sort of special occasion. The quick pace was there. Ditto with the command. Cueto hit 93.4 mph and averaged 91.3, the exact same velocity he had in 2017, his last healthy season. 

The next year, the elbow pain became too much, and Cueto underwent reconstructive surgery last August. There were no bumps in the rehab process, and Giants officials have been quietly optimistic all season long that Cueto would return as his old self. With a staff full of young question marks, led by an ace -- Madison Bumgarner -- who will be a free agent, the Giants desperately need Cueto to resume being one of the National League's better right-handers. Tuesday night, then, was extremely encouraging. 

"He was just so happy today -- before the game, during the game, after," catcher Stephen Vogt said. "You could just tell he was having fun. It's nice to be on this side of it. You see the joy he's out there with. He's pitching, he hits his spots. He's an artist. He really is."

Bochy planned to check on Cueto before announcing a next step, but the right-hander will start either Sunday at home or Tuesday in Boston. It will be relatively normal from here on out, although Cueto will still have a pitch count. He was set for 70 on Tuesday and was one pitch away when he threw his final strike. 

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Bochy said that would have been it if Cueto walked Kramer. Cueto smiled later and said he wasn't so sure. 

"I knew I wanted to strike him out," he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "If I walked him and Bochy came out, I was going to tell him to give me one last hitter."

It didn't come to that. On this night, there would be no bumps in the road.