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Monday, July 4, 2022

‘Pitching at it’s best’: Johnny Couto closes out a powerful Houston Astros offense in 7-0 Chicago White Sox win

Johnny Couto volunteered to pitch on Sunday when the Chicago White Sox needed help after starter Michael Kopech was ruled out in the first inning with a right knee trouble.

Cuoto entered third against the Texas Rangers and jumped five innings in the second relief appearance of his 15-season career.

He was back in his normal starting role against the Houston Astros on Saturday and was in complete control against one of the best lineups in baseball.

Cuoto allowed two hits, five from five and scored two runs in seven innings, giving the Sox a 7–0 win against the Astros in front of 36,747 at Minute Maid Park.

“I tried to keep the ball low in the zone because I know they can hit,” Cueto said through the interpreter. “I was good with the execution.”

Hours after the Astros scored 10 runs in an innings during Friday’s 13-3 win, Cueto kept them off balance to earn their first win with the Sox.

“(Friday) night was a bad game for us,” Cueto said. “But I always say you need to keep your head up. Keep your head up and be optimistic and come back the next day and try to do your job.”

Kyoto (1-3) did the same.

The only hits he surrendered were a Jose Altuve single from first center forward and an Alex Bregman infield single from seventh. Both of those runners were wiped out in double plays.

Cuoto helped the Sox to their first win at Minute Maid Park since May 23, 2019, breaking a streak of seven straight losses – including two in the 2021 postseason.

“It’s at its finest,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said.

Cueto had not received much run support since joining the Sox. He turned against Justin Verlander on Saturday.

Completely right-handed hitting the starting lineup found success, often with the ball being carried to the other side.

“We know you have to stay on the ball because he’s a Hall of Famer, so I thought it was a very wise approach,” La Russa said.

Danny Mendick and Andrew Vaughan singles from the right, loading the base with one in the third. Louis Robert brings home two with a right to the first run of the game.

Jose Abreu took the lead in two with a double from the left, making the lead 4-0.

Hot hitting continued in the fourth as well. Josh Harrison singled out to the right and scored when Vaughan’s hard-hitting grounder ran through the legs of second baseman Altuve. Robert scored two runs down the left-field line, taking the lead 7–0.

Robert had three hits and four RBIs. Vaughan scored three hits and twice.

“My attitude was the same as always,” said Robert through an interpreter. “I just tried to make good contact and play the ball.”

Verlander is out after Robert is hit in the fourth. He earned seven runs on nine hits, four with three strikes in a three-run innings. His IRA went from 1.94 to 2.30.

“After that support, I just said ‘Okay, I just need to keep up the game, I need to take care of myself,'” Cuoto said. “Because sometimes you can lose it. And I was able to do that.”

Cueto’s ERA rose from 3.53 to 2.95. He has played at least six innings in each of his six starts.

“His contribution to what we’re doing has built his entire career,” La Russa said. “They’ve given us a tremendous lift.”

The Sox were held on three runs or less in four of Kyoto’s first five starts. Once he crossed the mark, he made his Sox debut on May 16 in Kansas City, Mo., where Robert hit a two-run homer in the 10th for a 5–3 victory.

“It’s nothing personal, Johnny,” said La Russa. “But he’s a make-up (Saturday). Against a player like Verlander, really good batsmen. String hits together, kicks down the count. It (Saturday) was huge league hitting.”

And big-time pitching from Cueto, who said he felt no impact from the relief’s presence.

“I just love working out,” Cueto said. “Work hard, execute, try to keep the ball low in the zone and work hard to stay healthy. That’s the most important thing.”

Sox plan patience with Yoan Moncada, Giants claim Yermin Mercedes

The Sox played Saturday without third baseman Yoan Moncada, who left Friday’s game in the third inning with a right hamstring tightness.

“We’re going to wait, wait it out (Sunday) and see how that Monday is,” La Russa said. “Checked today. There’s something there, but it’s not such a problem that we can’t be a little patient to see if it comes up. See how that feels.”

Former Sox designated hitter Yermine Mercedes was claimed a waiver by the San Francisco Giants. Mercedes, who was named AL Rookie of the Month for April in 2021 but cooled down and opted for Charlotte on July 2, opted for Triple-A Sacramento.

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