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Giants place Johnny Cueto on 10-day disabled list with blisters

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Giants’ right-hander Johnny Cueto landed on the 10-day disabled list with blister-related issues, the team announced Saturday. Cueto was removed from his start on Friday after just four innings and is expected to miss two starts while he rehabs painful spots on his fingers. He was replaced by returning ace Madison Bumgarner, who resumed his spot in the rotation for the first time since his dirt bike accident in mid-April.

Following Friday’s 5-4 win over the Padres, Cueto told reporters that he felt hot spots on three fingers of his right hand, which affected his ability to grip the ball and led to his shortest start since 2015. He attributed the blister-like spots to a change in the baseball itself, a claim that was later backed up by manager Bruce Bochy prior to Saturday’s game.

“I feel the ball tight,” Cueto said in a postgame interview (via John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle). “This is the first time I’ve had blisters in my career.”

He may be on to something there. Cueto, 31, is 6-7 in 19 starts this season with a 4.59 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 115 2/3 innings. He’s nearly doubled the walk per nine innings mark he set in 2016 and his 4.00+ ERA is the highest it’s been since his rookie season in 2008. Friday’s abbreviated start was just the latest in a string of rough outings, totaling 12 runs, 13 walks and 10 strikeouts over his last three starts and 15 innings.

Phillies walk off winners thanks to a poor decision by Marcell Ozuna

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The Phillies’ bullpen, which has not been good as of late, gift-wrapped Monday’s game for the Cardinals. Starter Nick Pivetta was brilliant, fanning 13 while allowing two runs in 7 1/3 innings. But things unraveled after he left the game. Victor Arano took over for Edubray Ramos to start the ninth inning with the Phillies leading 4-2, but he allowed a one-out single and a double. After striking out Harrison Bader, Arano appeared to strike out Yairo Munoz for the final out of the game, but the ball trickled through the legs of catcher Andrew Knapp, allowing a run to score and the tying run to move to third base. Lefty Adam Morgan came in to face pinch-hitter Kolten Wong. Wong tied the game up, sneaking a single into center field.

In the 10th inning, Jake Thompson gave up the go-ahead run on a leadoff home run to Tommy Pham. It seemed like it was just going to be another one of those losses that have become increasingly common for the Phillies lately. But the Phillies’ offense didn’t go down quietly, even though it hadn’t put a runner on second base since the start of the second inning when J.P. Crawford doubled. In the bottom half of the 10th, Hoskins blooped a single into shallow left-center to start the inning. Hoskins moved to second base on a ground out from Odubel Herrera. Matt Bowman intentionally walked Carlos Santana, then struck out Jesmuel Valentin. That brought up Aaron Altherr, who replaced Nick Williams after Williams took a baseball to the face off of the right field fence. Bowman fell behind 2-1, then threw a 90 MPH fastball that Altherr lined into left field. Rather than keep the ball in front of him, Marcell Ozuna decided to dive for the ball to make the final out, but he missed. The ball trickled past him, allowing the tying and the game-winning runs to score, giving the Phillies a come-from-behind win.

On the list of people happy to see Ozuna miss that ball are Altherr (of course), Arano, Morgan, and Thompson. But perhaps no one was happier than manager Gape Kapler. The win might help take the heat off of him somewhat after another poor performance from the bullpen. When a team struggles, everyone wants a scapegoat and Kapler is an easy target. He has been all year, undeservingly.

Phillies radio broadcaster and former major league reliever Larry Anderson said after the bullpen meltown, “Not everybody can pitch in the ninth inning. And I know Gabe Kapler thinks they can, but they can’t.” Aside from Ramos and Seranthony Dominguez (who was unavailable after throwing 52 pitches between Saturday and Sunday in Milwaukee), no one in that bullpen has been reliable. The closer, Hector Neris, just got optioned to Triple-A. You work with what you have, and right now, Kapler doesn’t have a whole lot. Thankfully for him, he wasn’t punished with another loss thanks to Ozuna.