Former Dayton Dragons pitcher Johnny Cueto’s dominant performance Wednesday led the Kansas City Royals to a 7-2 win over the Houston Astros, clinching an American League Championship Series berth for the second consecutive season.
This year’s ALCS, which begins Friday, will be a rematch of the 1985 edition between the Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays. Kansas City won last time and went on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
Cueto had struggled since the Royals acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in late July, but he pitched like an ace when his team needed him most, a do-or-die Game 5 in the American League Division Series. He allowed only two baserunners in eight innings and committed only one real mistake, a two-run homer by Luis Valbuena in the 2nd inning. He retired the next 19 batters he faced before Wade Davis took over in the 9th inning.
Cueto is the first American League pitcher to retire the last 19 batters he faced in a postseason game since Don Larsen pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series.
Cueto pitched for Dayton in 2006, going 8-1 with a 2.59 ERA, 82 strikeouts and 15 walks in 76.1 innings (14 starts). He also made two rehab starts for the Dragons in 2013, earning a win and striking out eight while walking none in eight innings.
Valbuena played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers in 2006, batting .286 with 3 HR, 38 RBI and 21 SB in 89 games. He made a one-game rehab appearance with the 2013 Kane County Cougars, going 1-for-3 with a walk.
Davis also played in the Midwest League in 2006, going 7-12 with a 3.02 ERA, 165 strikeouts and 64 walks in 146 innings (27 starts) for the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays. That team was based in Battle Creek, Mich.