Giants, Cueto hope to keep Dodgers down (Mar 29, 2018)

March 29, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- Johnny Cueto got an up-close-and-personal look at how to hold down an explosive Los Angeles Dodgers' offense.

The San Francisco Giants' No. 2 starter will get to put those lessons into action Friday night knowing that he will also be facing some lineup changes that will alter the flow.

The Dodgers were held in check by left-hander Ty Blach in Thursday's season opener, but could change their lineup a bit to give infielder Chase Utley and outfielder Joc Pederson their first starts of the season.

A proven offense won't be Cueto's only challenge, though. He will have to match wits with Dodgers starter Alex Wood, who figures to have nothing but confidence in the early going. Not only did Wood go 16-3 with a 2.72 ERA for the Dodgers last season, he roared out to a 10-0 start and a 1.67 ERA into July.

In nine career appearances against the Giants (five starts), Wood is 2-2 with a 5.35 ERA.

Wood's reward for a strong 2017 and a solid spring training is the Dodgers' No. 2 spot, but he is not trying to make a big deal about following in Clayton Kershaw's footsteps. Kershaw gave up one run in the opener.

"We do things a little bit differently around here," Wood said, according to mlb.com. "We don't look at it as one, two, three, four, five. I think we have five guys that can throw in any spot. But to be on a team as good as we are and to throw second behind the greatest pitcher of our generation is pretty cool for sure. I'm happy and excited to go out there second."

Cueto's energetic personality shows that he certainly won't have any fear Friday. His 8-8 record in 2017 with a 4.52 ERA was far below the standard of a pitcher with a career 3.33 ERA. Blisters and a flexor tendon strain gave him fits in 2017, but he looked more like his former self with 16 strikeouts in 15 innings this spring.

In 17 career starts against the Dodgers, Cueto is 6-8 with a 3.44 ERA.

Cueto was not exactly sharp in his final start at Arizona on April 19, giving up four runs to the Indians, but he was far from worried about it at the time.

"Let the show start and let's see what happens," Cueto said. "Once the season starts, I'll be ready."

No fear indeed.

The Dodgers managed only six hits Thursday, although they worked five walks. They just could not piece a rally together.

Kershaw had two of the Dodgers hits. Yasmani Grandal also had two hits. The top three batters in the Dodgers' order Thursday were 0-for-11 with a walk.

Giants hitters struck out 11 times against four Dodgers pitchers in the opener, but collected eight hits, none bigger than Joe Panik's home run down the right-field line against Kershaw.

Panik and Hunter Pence each had two hits Thursday while Buster Posey was 0-for-2 with a pair of walks.



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