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White Sox Finally Back Up Johnny Cueto's Comments and Performance

The South Siders answered Cueto's call for "fire" with a thrilling comeback that resulted in a win for the veteran hurler.
Johnny Cueto Fist Pump Chicago White Sox

Photo: NBC Sports Chicago

Johnny Cueto has been a stalwart for the Chicago White Sox this season, but his efforts haven't always been rewarded. Despite his 14 quality starts on the season, the White Sox are 8-9 in games in which Cueto pitches. Frustrated with the results, the 36-year-old made headlines last week when he questioned the team's "fire."

Cueto's choice comments followed an outing in which he tossed six innings of three-run ball (two earned) before the wheels fell off in an ugly 8-3 loss to the lowly Kansas City Royals. In his previous outing, the crafty right-hander picked up a complete-game loss as the White Sox mustered only two runs against the Texas Rangers.

But things finally changed Monday against the Houston Astros. In perhaps their best win of the season, the White Sox mounted a valiant comeback to back up Cueto's comments and performance.

An Appropriate Response

The two-time All-Star took the mound facing a tough task against the best team in the American League. Adversity arose early when second baseman Josh Harrison misplayed what should have been a double-play ball in the first inning. Two runs crossed the plate -- only one of them earned -- as a result, and it seemed the White Sox' malaise would continue.

But Cueto responded through his words and actions, both of which kept his team in a position to win.

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"Fuck it, let's keep competing," the veteran said.

And that's exactly what the South Siders did. Cueto settled in and didn't allow a run the rest of the way, finishing with a final line of 8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. And despite squandering a few chances in the middle of the game, the White Sox' bats delivered a ferocious eighth-inning rally.

With two outs in the frame, it seemed the South Siders would go down quietly. But an infield single forced the Astros to go to the bullpen. The White Sox responded with a string of hits, including two-RBI knocks from Eloy Jimenez and Yoan Moncada, to take a late lead. Liam Hendriks then locked down what could be a season-defining victory.

And that sentiment wasn't lost on Johnny Cueto, who picked up a win for the first time since July 14.

"That’s what we need to do in every game, have the same energy level and excitement that we had today…We need every win. All these games are playoff games, and we need to be prepared to compete," said Cueto.

Trailing the Cleveland Guardians by two games in the AL Central, the Chicago White Sox are in a volatile position. But if they can sustain the spirit Cueto has called for, they just might make a push that propels a postseason run.