Happy Saturday, White Sox fans, and happy Johnny Cueto Day. The game started in a delay of two hours and 56 minutes this evening, but that had no ill effect on South Side surprise ace Johnny Cueto.
Cueto fiercely dominated in his best performance of the season, shutting out the Guardians in an almost-complete game, serving up 26 outs before giving way to Liam Hendriks with one on and two outs in the ninth.
Cueto brought another artfully deceptive performance against Shane Bieber, who had his left index finger heavily taped, yet still brought plenty of challenge to the hotdog. Cueto was brilliant, and kept the Guardians on their toes with his outstanding arsenal of seemingly mediocre (on paper) heat. He’s smart, he does the job in his head and does it right, and when he’s not stretching his string of quality starts, he provides rallying cries for his teammates:
Cueto’s ability to bring quality starts this season has been instrumental in keeping the White Sox in the tight AL Central race. He powered through this close game and wiped the floor with the Guardians, with a notable seven pitches in a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
This pitcher’s duel went scoreless into the sixth, until Luis Robert motored home on a José Abreu double. Killer defensive moves from Josh Harrison and Elvis Andrus kept the Guardians at bay, and the White Sox were able to protect the stellar performance from Cueto and secure the win unscathed. Well, almost.
In the seventh with no one out, Yasmani Grandal was waved home by third base coach Joe McEwing for some reason, on a single from Andrus. If there is anyone on the White Sox roster — or anyone in the majors, for that matter — who cannot score from second on a single, it’s Yasmani. Presumably, McEwing knows this. Yaz even looked behind him, after the wave home, likely doubting McEwing’s weird call, and was tagged out before collapsing to the ground and rolling back and forth while holding his knee.
After Grandal was helped off of the field and we all felt the depression creeping back up from yet another injury, Andrus manufactured a run, almost as if to make up for the mishap. He strolled into third with his 325th career stolen base, then immediately scored the very important second run for the White Sox on a faulty overthrow by Will Benson.
Credit to Andrus’ hustle, his veteran experience, and his stellar heads-up moves tonight. With only two games on the White Sox, Andrus has likely already motivated the team more than Tony La Russa has the entire season.
Here’s hoping our new shortstop is as beloved in Chicago as he’s been in his former teams’ cities:
Tonight’s shutout was fun to watch, with most of the credit to the outstanding Johnny Cueto, whose wheels are constantly turning and ready to dominate in the mental game.
It’s a very quick turnaround, as tomorrow’s contest is a Peacock broadcast exclusive, which makes for an 11 a.m. CT start. There’s a favorable pitching matchup (Dylan Cease vs. Aaron Civale), so let’s take the series tomorrow.