MILWAUKEE -- In his debut, Johnny Cueto lived up to the hype.
The $130 million offseason acquisition threw seven strong innings Tuesday, leading the way in a 2-1 win at Miller Park that clinched the first series of the season. Cueto allowed just six hits and was in complete command of the Brewers after a second-inning run.
Cueto gave up his first run as a Giant when the Brewers got back-to-back singles and then a run-scoring grounder to short. He worked out of trouble in the third, getting Ryan Braun to swing over the top of a wicked two-strike, two-out changeup, and then settled into an easy rhythm.
Cueto struck out Chris Carter looking on a 93-mph heater in the fourth, and got Jonathan Villar and Jimmy Nelson in the fifth. He worked around a double in the sixth and exited that frame at just 78 pitches. The seventh was another stress-free inning, with Cueto getting a pop-up and grounder to second after allowing a one-out single. That would be it for Cueto, who threw 62 of his 96 pitches for strikes, walking none and whiffing four.
Cueto was given a fresh slate in the third when Brandon Crawford blasted the first pitch of the inning into the second deck in right. Joe Panik scored the go-ahead run on a fielder’s choice in the fourth, but that would be it against Nelson, a right-hander who allowed just five hits while pitching into the eighth.
Starting pitching report: Cueto was a four-time Opening Day starter for the Reds, so he’s very familiar with the Brewers. He has won seven straight against them and is 10-3 in 19 career starts.
Bullpen report: Sergio Romo’s first appearance of the year went swimmingly. He pitched a perfect eighth. Santiago Casilla pumped a steady stream of 95-mph fastballs while striking out two in the ninth.
At the plate: Cueto was nearly as entertaining at the plate as on the mound. He topped a 10-footer in his first at-bat and busted it down the line, bringing back memories of Santiago Casilla’s blowout a couple years ago. Dave Groeschner might have had a heart attack. Somebody probably got to Cueto, because when he grounded out in his next two at-bats he didn’t even make it halfway down the line.
In the field: The Brewers put a runner on third with one down in the third and Domingo Santana hit a grounder to Crawford, who was playing in. The reigning Gold Glove Award winner fired a strike to the plate and Buster Posey put down a perfect swipe tag, nicking Villar as he slid into home. Craig Counsell stood on the top step for nearly a minute, but the Brewers ultimately decided not to challenge. (It’s possible they just wanted to watch the pretty play a half-dozen times.)
Attendance: The Brewers officially announced about 23,000 for their first night game, but it appeared to be much less than that on primary night in Wisconsin.
Up next: Jeff Samardzija makes his Giants debut, and Bruce Bochy said before the game that the right-hander may throw to Trevor Brown. With a day game on Thursday, Buster Posey could get Wednesday off. The Giants face Taylor Jungmann, a fill-in for the injured Matt Garza.