1. Johnny Cueto, Kansas City Royals. Over 36,000 fans packed Kauffman Stadium to see Cueto's home debut. Maybe he's just a rental, but the fans treated like a homegrown hero, giving him a huge ovation when he returned to the mound for the ninth inning. Cueto didn't disappoint, finishing off the 116-pitch complete-game win over the Tigers for his sixth career shutout. As always, Cueto's complete arsenal of pitches -- he threw 60 fastballs, 24 sliders, 19 cutters and 13 changeups -- and twists and turns in his delivery make him one of the game's best pitchers, even if he doesn't have plus-plus velocity. But here's why the Royals have to love the guy they acquired to become their ace down the stretch and in the postseason:
When Johnny Cueto heard the ovation after the 8th, he asked Ned Yost if he could pitch the 9th. He wanted to finish the game for the crowd.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughStar) August 11, 2015
Johnny Cueto with a shutout. Ben Zobrist 3 for 3 + a walk. The sort of night that makes giving up four hard-throwing LHP prospects worth it.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 11, 2015
It was a night off for the bullpen, a nice luxury as it was just the second complete game for the Royals (and the one previous complete game came in a rain-shortened six-inning game).
2. New York Mets magic. The Mets were one-hit through six innings by Rockies rookie Jon Gray, making his second major league start. Gray had thrown only 75 pitches, but the Rockies turned the game over to their bullpen, holding a 2-1 lead. Oops. With two outs and the bases loaded after a single and two walks, Boone Logan replaced Justin Miller to get a lefty-lefty matchup against Curtis Granderson. Certainly the right move considering Granderson was hitting .159 against southpaws. Logan hit Granderson with a 3-2 slider. Daniel Murphy then poked a little ground ball past a diving Jose Reyes for a two-run single. The Mets have won 8 of 10 during their run to the NL East lead, posting a 2.67 ERA in that span.
By the way ... only 27,000 at Citi Field? Come on, Mets fans! You're in first place! And your team is 39-18 at home!
3. Gio Gonzalez, Washington Nationals. With the Mets having already won, the pressure was on the Nats to do the same in Dodger Stadium. Don Mattingly stacked the lineup with right-handed batters, benching Adrian Gonzalez, Andre Ethier, Yasmani Grandal and Joc Pederson, but it didn't work as Gonzalez tossed eight scoreless innings in an 8-3 victory. Gonzalez hadn't gone more than seven innings all season and hadn't pitched eight innings in 35 starts. For the Dodgers, that's four losses in a row. Jose Peraza, acquired from the Braves in that deadline deal, also made his major league debut, batting second and playing second base for Howie Kendrick, who went on the DL with a strained hamstring. Peraza became the 51st Dodger of the season as the revolving roster shuffle continues.
How do #Dodgers try to stop losing streak? "Get the ball to Zack Greinke," Mattingly said. Greinke starts tomorrow.— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) August 11, 2015
4. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox. He'd given up 14 runs his past two starts (how does that happen?) but looked more like Chris Sale on Monday night, allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings in an 8-2 win over the Angels.
5. Reports of players placed on waivers! Today: Chase Utley. Tomorrow: Somebody else. Wake me when a trade is actually made.