After struggling in July and August for completely different reasons, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt are getting (or have gotten, rather) hot at just the right time. As a result, the Brandons were able to propel the Giants to a victory in which they were the only regular starters as far as position players were concerned.
Belt drove in Matt Duffy with a double into the right field corner in the first to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. The Padres tied it with a sacrifice fly against Jake Peavy in the fifth, and the game was deadlocked until the eighth. I was sure the game was going to extra innings. Bruce Bochy was, too.
With the bases loaded and one out, he sent Pablo Sandoval to the plate. Sandoval took four huge cuts and struck out against Dale Thayer, whose facial hair makes him look like a cross between Goose Gossage and some prospector from the Gold Rush era. Up stepped Crawford, who lined a first-pitch fastball to right to give the Giants a 3-1 lead they’d keep.
“Two outs there, he’s a guy we want up there, to be honest, because he is swinging the bat well,” said Bochy. “He has a knack for knocking in runs and he came through for us. Last thing we wanted to go was extra innings, so he saved us today.”
Crawford is now fourth on the team in runs batted in with 69, pretty remarkable for a shortstop who usually hits in the bottom of the lineup and hit under .200 in July and August.
“Midway through August, when my average was pretty low, my goal was just to drive runs in and just kind of help us out wherever I can to get some wins,” said Crawford. “Not to say I gave up on getting hits and getting my average up, but I was more focused on trying to get guys in. I’ve done a pretty good job of that so far.”
Crawford went 1-for-4 on the day, with that single coming in his only at-bat of the day with runners on base. That’s been a season-long pattern.
- Crawford’s slash line with no one on base: .210/.288/.344
- Crawford’s slash line with runners on base: .294/.369/.450
Peavy labored through five innings, but his outing was strong considering he’s been sick for several days. Bochy knew Peavy wouldn’t be able to go as long as usual, and he also wanted to get Sergio Romo and Jean Machi a day off. His plan to use Jeremy Affeldt, Hunter Strickland and Santiago Casilla worked to perfection.
That’s quality work,” said Bochy of Affeldt’s day. “That’s two big innings, shutting them down. It worked out well. I didn’t want to overextend Jake.”
Strickland came in and retired the side in the eighth. In his last three outings he’s gotten his first big league save, hold and win. He’s allowed five hits over seven innings, walking nine and striking out none.
“He’s really been a boost, a shot in the arm. This kid, he’s got great stuff, but he’s got a great makeup about him. He’s got the command to go with the stuff, with the poise,” Bochy said.
“Bullpen, what a job today but Strickland, he has kind of filled a need for us, that sixth, seventh, eighth inning.”
— In case you missed it, I wrote about my behind the scenes look at how Giants broadcasts are put together. Generally most of my stories take somewhere from one to four hours to write … this one took A LOT longer, so I figured I’d plug it again before it dropped into the internet abyss.
— Funny response on Twitter from Barry Bonds here.
— According to the Giants’ PR staff, Crawford is hitting .356 with runners in scoring position and two outs.
— Peavy reached 202.2 innings for the season. It was his fifth time reaching that mark — he did it for three consecutive years in San Diego (2005-07), then not again until 2012.
“I was happy to throw 200 innings. It showed with the surgery with my lat that I’m healthy. I threw 220 innings in ’12. In ’13 I didn’t quite get there because of a broken rib. This was the third year in a row I was happy to show that that lat surgery’s behind me,” said Peavy, who’s raring to start Game 1 in Washington, if necessary of course.
“I want to pitch this weekend as bad as you could ever imagine. My heart and soul will be tomorrow, prepping for my next start, I promise you that. Just see the way it ends up playing. But we all in this room feel like there’s going to be weekend baseball.”
— Peavy’s numbers changed dramatically after the trade.
- Peavy with Boston: 124 IP, 4.72 ERA, 9.5 H/9, 3.3 BB/9, Red Sox went 5-15 in his starts
- Peavy with San Francisco: 78.2 IP, 2.17 ERA, 7.4 H/9, 1.9 BB/9, Giants went 8-4 in his starts
Bochy dismissed the idea that moving to the National League changed Peavy’s fortunes, noting that he’s been pitching well enough to succeed anywhere. According to Peavy, the Giants’ coaching staff deserves some credit for correcting his mechanics.
“Rags just mentioned some things and really Gardy as well. I talked to all of them. These guys saw me when I was young. They have a neat perspective of me when I was here facing them a lot. I kind of made my way about (the majors) with some injuries, so you kind of do some things different. But you want to get back to those core values, and I think some of the stuff that they said has made me better. I can’t thank them enough for that. Hard work as well, we’ve worked hard since I’ve been here with everybody, Groesch, Carl, it’s been a group effort,” said Peavy, who explained what part of his delivery he worked on with Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner.
“Just really staying on line. I was really getting around the ball, I felt, there in Boston. I had some stuff that I was battling leg-wise, just some stuff that’s kind of nagging. It’ll cause you, without even knowing, make some mechanical adjustments without even knowing, just protecting your body. I was really getting around the ball in Boston. I feel like I’m behind the ball and getting over it. My biggest thing is my line to the plate.”
— This will be the last home game I cover this season … unless the Giants win on Wednesday, and I somehow get credentialed for the NLDS. I probably won’t be covering tomorrow’s game in any capacity (49ers are at home in a pivotal game against the Eagles, and the game doesn’t matter to the Giants other than that they’d like to provide the home fans with a good show), but we’ll keep an eye on who the Giants will face on Wednesday. I wrote a little about the pitchers they might face earlier in the day here, and here’s the Hunter Pence video I shot on Thursday night in case you need to get fired up again.