NEW YORK — All they did was put up zeros.
“Like an artist,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said of Johnny Cueto.
Crafty veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto, in his second start for the White Sox and certainly not the last in their rotation, pitched six-plus innings of scoreless ball against the slugging Yankees Sunday, helping the the Sox to a charged-up 3-1 victory in the first game of a doubleheader.
On a hot afternoon at Yankee Stadium that required Cueto to chug two bottles of Gatorade on the mound during the sixth inning and receive intravenous fluids after the game, AJ Pollock hit a tiebreaking homer against Aroldis Chapman in the ninth inning to break a 1-all tie and Adam Engel doubled in an insurance run.
Liam Hendriks’ perfect ninth with two strikeouts positioned the Sox for a sweep of the doubleheader against the team with the best record in baseball.
A day after a benches clearing incident resulting from Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson calling Tim Anderson “Jackie,” Cueto quieted the Yankees bats in typical Cueto fashion.
“I had good command of all my pitches, they had very good movement and was able to locate them up and down in the zone,” Cueto said through translator Billy Russo. “That was the key to keeping the Yankees off-balance.”
Cueto threw 95 pitches, exiting with a 1-0 lead after allowing singles to Aaron Hicks and Isiah Kiner-Falefa to open the seventh. Joe Kelly pitched out of the jam before the Yankees tied it in the eighth on Aaron Judge’s 15th homer against Kendall Graveman.
Cueto, Graveman and Chapman were checked by training staff during their outings but stayed in the game.
The Sox improved to 20-20 a day after losing 7-5 in a game marked by a benches clearing incident.
Cueto’s streak of 12 scoreless innings to start his career ranks third since 1974 behind Ken Brett with 17 in 1976 and Jack McDowell with 13 in 1987, per STATS.
“Dealing,” Pollock said. “He’s been awesome. Works fast and has all sorts of pitches to get them off-balanced. Shimmy shake. It’s great having him out there for the first game of a doubleheader because of the tone he just set for us.”