KC Royals Johnny Cueto’s Greatness Showed Up Late


Announcers: “All the girls love…” the rocking of Johnny Cueto dancing on the mound. The ball dances to the plate. Back to announcers: “Price of free agents go up.”

In this case, the announcers were not referring to Johnny Cueto, but Colby Rasmus. Rasmus was on fire, leaving the KC Royals fans with despair. Pestilence hits the stadium. The crowd groans.

Cueto makes one mistake and out it goes. No “Aunt Minnie” comment from Ned Yost this time. As Red Barber used too say in regard to a homer, “Oh, Doctor!”

The announcers said that Rasmus is worried and freaking out before the game, but you cannot tell when he steps into the batter’s box. There, he is Superman. Beavis and Butthead allusion. Color Rasmus in the batter’s  box “unimpressed”–when you are hitting at the level he has been, any thing is possible.

According to A.J. Hinch, Astros manager: “When he gets hot, it is some kind of electrifying. For a thin guy that hunts his fastballs, he can do some damage.”

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In the next inning, the top of the fourth, Cueto was electric. He moved the ball in and out, darting all over. Cueto struck out one, in a truly excellent eight pitch inning. Did the Astros have a chance? Not this inning. As Cueot stalked off the mound, he exchanged a few words with Jose Altuve. Perhaps he warned the diminutive second baseman that the Astros had their chance to put the game away and failed to do so.

After the KC Royals failed to score in the bottom of the inning, the question became whether or not Cueto could hold the fort? Could he keep the game in reach? Cueto left another ball up, which Carlos Correa slashed to the opposite field. This time, the Royals got lucky, as the ball was barely foul.

Baseball can be mean. Having missed the home run, Correa hit the ball even harder….

Only, this time, it was off his leg. Down he went, as the trainers rushed out to check on the Astros prized youngster. Correa seemingly felt foolish, as the announcers say “Cueto going back inside. ” Yes, baseball can be a cruel game. “No pain for a 21 year old in the playoffs.”

Minutes later, Correa bravely got back in the box. But despite Correa’s injury and courage, he struck out. Colby “rabid” Rasmus up. Thanks, boo.  Not him again. This time, Rasmus walked. “Don’t touch the furniture” say the announcers. Evan Gattis, with one on and two out, popped up to end the frame.

Even the announcers know Cueto was dominant, but a bloop for two runs and a doinker for a home run have left him down by two. Who said baseball is fair? Are the Royals laughing?

During the bottom of the fifth, the announcers discussed how the Royals finished up the season with too big a lead.  According to the announcers, the Royals were toast during yesterday’s game with the end of the season looming. With a man on, Rios barely hit a ball down the line foul. So much for the rally.

At least, in that inning. In the sixth, Cain wreaked cane. With the tying run up at the plate, Hinch exited the dugout. Houston, we have a problem. Kazmir is pulled, as Oliver Perez was brought in. Cueto has outlasted his competition, but was still down by two.

With Eric Hosmer down in the count 0-2, Cain ran on pitch. It appeared to be a bad idea. Hoz had no answer to the pitch, as he just put his bat out. Somehow, he made contact, flairing the ball over the shortstop. It may have been a feeble swing, but it scored a run. RBI in box score. “Pterodactyl” wing span, say announcers about Hoz. Morales faced the shift, hitting ground ball that had eyes. The infielders stared as the ball snakes its way into left.

The crowd, once dead, understood Cueto’s predicament. They didn’t boo. Now, the roar of the crowd rolled across the field and tore the Astros apart. Yost remains deadpan. He’s seen this before, just like last year, late in the Wild Card Game against the Oakland A’s. This year, in lots of games. Down one run. Is Ned bored? “Let’s go Royals,” chanted the crowd. With the bases loaded, in came Josh Fields for the Astros.

Johnny Cueto visibly cheered as the KC Royals tied the game in the bontom of 6th. Even though he was pulled following the inning, Cueto gave the Royals what he could. Did the box score tell how well he pitched? No. But sometimes, it is not about the stats.

The Royals got the Johnny Cueto they hoped for last night. He just arrived to the game a little late.

Next: Five Reasons the Royals will Defeat the Astros