On August 20, Cleveland had one of Johnny Cueto’s most impressive outings in a season filled with them.
The Chicago White Sox starter allowed a leadoff single to Steven Kwan and didn’t give up another hit until the fifth when Oscar Gonzalez singled with one out.
Cueto walked with two outs in the ninth, and Liam Hendricks delivered the final at-bat a 2-0 win at Progressive Field. Cueto allowed five hits, four of them singles, in the win.
Cueto has been a key member of the rotation since signed a minor league deal at the end of spring training and joining the major league team in mid-May.
He was unable to make his last scheduled start last weekend in Detroit because the weather was bad, but he is scheduled to start Thursday’s series finale against the Guardians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“I feel good, much better,” Cueto said through an interpreter before Tuesday’s game.
Cueto — who is 7-8 with a 3.09 ERA in 22 outings (21 starts) — was scratched from Saturday’s start and was benched again Sunday.
“I felt weak and my vision was bad,” he said. “Body aches too.”
As for being ready for Thursday, Cueto said, “Yes, by the grace of God.”
Acting manager Miguel Cairo added: “He said he was better than on Sunday. We’ll just keep checking to see how he feels on Thursday.”
The Sox had to reshuffle the rotation over the weekend without Cueto and Michael Kopech, who went on the 15-day injured list Saturday with inflammation of the right shoulder.
“I had a bigger workload this year,” Kopech said Sunday in Detroit. “I worked through a little general soreness during the season. It took me a little longer to free myself.
“Threw that bullpen (Thursday’s session) in Cleveland and just felt like I was never going to be able to break free. As a precaution, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t doing anything that could cause harm. So the team forced me to shut down for a while.
“It’s a really tough time for this. It’s exciting that Davis (Martin) came in and did what he did for us (allowing one run on three hits in six innings Saturday), but I know it puts us in a position. I wish I didn’t have to. But with that being said, we still have some work to do and our bullpen is lifting us up a lot this year. I hope they continue to do that.”
Kopech said he had no previous problems with his shoulder.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a problem either, as it’s a mountain to climb,” he said.
Kopech, who is 5-9 with a 3.54 ERA in 25 starts after spending most of last season in the bullpen, would like to be able to help the team.
“It’s hard to push something when you know it’s not right,” he said. “I’m probably glad I found the time. I wish it had happened at another time, but we are there now. As long as I don’t do any long-term damage, I’ll come back and give the team what I’m going to get.
“We have a team goal and I’m still very focused on that goal. If we can make a push here in the next two weeks or so, then if I get a chance I’d like to be a part of it. We have a dedicated team and unfortunately it comes down to the wire. But we know what we want to do.”
The Sox were scheduled to begin a six-game stretch Tuesday with the first of three important games against the first-place Guardians. They entered the day trailing four games in the American League Central.
“It’s a tough time, but it’s a different game,” Cairo said of the mindset entering the stretch. “Simply put, one game at a time. They were doing something. They come out, play hard, get good at bats, play good defense. We performed well. We just have to repeat and keep doing it.”