SAN FRANCISCO — In many ways, Johnny Cueto was an easy choice to start for the Giants in their 2021 home opener on Friday afternoon.
The entertaining Cueto didn’t disappoint, welcoming fans back to Oracle Park with 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball to lead the Giants to a 3-1 series-opening win over the Rockies.
Cueto and left-hander Austin Gomber each opened their outings with six scoreless innings before shortstop Brandon Crawford finally ended the stalemate with a two-run, bases-loaded double in the bottom of the seventh inning.
After mustering only one hit and two walks through the first six innings against Gomber, the Giants finally managed to chase the 27-year-old southpaw in the seventh, when he issued a pair of walks to Darin Ruf and Buster Posey with one out. Rockies manager Bud Black subsequently brought in right-hander Tyler Kinley, who issued another walk to pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson to load the bases.
That brought up Crawford, who drove a 1-2 slider from Kinley into the right-center-field gap to plate two runs and give the Giants their first lead of the afternoon.
Cueto made sure it held up, carrying a shutout into the ninth before giving up a leadoff triple to Chris Owings, who scored on a sacrifice fly to cut the Giants’ lead to 3-1. Cueto retired Ryan McMahon on a flyout, but he then gave up a single to Trevor Story on his 118th and final pitch of the afternoon.
Giants manager Gabe Kapler followed by bringing in closer Jake McGee, who struck out Sam Hilliard on three pitches to end the game. Cueto allowed only four hits, struck out seven and walked one in the brilliant outing, becoming the first Giants starter to pick up a winning decision this year.