Royals confident in Cueto's ability to emerge from rut
Right-hander works three innings in fourth straight loss
By Robert Falkoff
Special to MLB.com |
KANSAS CITY -- It was nearly a month ago that Johnny Cueto showcased the 'wow' factor in a dominating four-hit shutout performance against the Tigers. He followed that outing by allowing just one run over eight innings against the Angels and looked as good as advertised when the Royals went shopping for a true ace prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
When he was lifted after just three innings on Sunday, having allowed seven hits and five earned runs, it marked the fourth consecutive start in which Cueto has struggled. The right-hander took a fourth consecutive loss as the White Sox prevailed, 7-5, to sweep the three-game weekend series.
Manager Ned Yost had talked before the game about how Cueto and pitching coach Dave Eiland had been working on keeping Cueto's front shoulder from "flying open." But the first five White Sox hitters reached base and Cueto was down 3-0 before he could record an out.
Yost said Cueto is simply going through a rough patch much like a hitter who goes into a slump.
"I've got all the confidence in the world that he'll get through it," Yost said, adding that Cueto is healthy and wasn't done in by a mechanical flaw on Sunday.
The three-inning stint was Cueto's shortest since June 28, 2013, when he lasted just one inning against Texas.
"I'm going to look at video and continue to work," Cueto said through a translator. "There's nothing I can do about today and about the last three starts. I'm not frustrated at all. Just a little disappointed that I haven't been able to help the team the way I'm supposed to help this club."
From the day he was acquired, Cueto was projected as Kansas City's Game 1 playoff starter and the Royals continue to express total confidence that Cueto will get back on track and come up big in the biggest moments after arriving from the National League.
"We're not worried about it," first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "It takes a little while for guys to settle in and get comfortable with the [American] League. It's a guy who has been pitching in the National League for a long time. He's still trying to adjust to the hitters. We know how good he is. We're not losing confidence in him just because of a couple starts."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.