Johnny Cueto made a lasting first impression with the Kansas City fans.
Cueto pitched a shutout and Lorenzo Cain doubled home two runs as the Royals beat the Detroit Tigers 4-0 Monday night.
Cueto threw 116 pitches and stymied the Tigers on four hits, three of them singles. It was his second shutout this season. His first was July 7 while with the Reds at Washington.
It was the Royals’ second complete game this year, but the other was Edinson Volquez’s six-inning, rain-shortened victory on May 23 over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Cueto struck out eight and walked none to pick up his first Royals victory in his third start.
“My (home) debut I wanted the ninth,” Cueto said, with Royals coach Pedro Grifol acting as his translator. “I asked Ned (Yost, manager) after the eighth to go back out. I felt comfortable with everything.
“I felt strong starting off and it went on I felt really, really good with my plan. Salvy (Perez, catcher) played a big part in it. He said, ‘Let’s go out and finish this thing.’ One of the main reasons was to rest our bullpen. They’ve been used quite a bit as of late. That was going through my mind throughout, to finish this game to help our bullpen out.”
After the game, Perez gave Cueto a Gatorade shower on the field as he was doing a post-game television interview.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I earned it,” Cueto said.
This is what the Royals were expecting when they acquired Cueto.
“That’s what an ace does,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said.
Hosmer drove in pinch runner Jarrod Dyson with a two-out, seventh-inning single.
Left-hander Matt Boyd limited the Royals to one run over seven innings in his Tigers debut Wednesday. In the rematch Monday, the Royals got to Boyd for three runs in the first inning.
Shortstop Alcides Escobar and left fielder Ben Zobrist each singled on the first pitch. Cain doubled to deep center to score both, making it 2-0 before Boyd retired a hitter, prompting a mound visit from pitching coach Jeff Jones.
Kendrys Morales’ one-out single scored Cain, giving the designated hitter 81 RBIs, which ranks second in the American League.
Boyd, however, did not allow another run before exiting with one out in the sixth.
“He did a nice job of recovering,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. “A lot of young pitchers wouldn’t have recovered from that.”
But this night belonged to Cueto.
“He did what he does best,” Tigers left fielder Tyler Collins said. “He kept us off-balance. He was changing his speeds, throwing all of his pitches with all of his timings to the plate. You’ve got to try to not do too much. Me personally, I tried to do too much a couple of times and that’s what happens. You do exactly what he wants you to do.”
“From the first inning to the ninth inning there was no difference,” Yost said in Cueto’s stuff.
Zorbist, another late July acquisition by general manager Dayton Moore, led the Royals’ 12-hit offense with three hits and a walk. The Royals’ first five hitters all had multi-hit games.