After the Giants got swept in San Diego and fell 4.5 games behind the Dodgers, Andrew Baggarly’s pregame updates read like a prewritten obituary.
Tonight’s appetizers: raw artichoke, soggy bruschetta and rancid steak tartare. But dessert was sweet and delicious for the Giants, who sidestepped danger throughout the night before scoring three runs in a wacky top of the 13th to beat the Dodgers 5-2.
Is 3.5 games too many to overcome with just six days left in the season? Probably, but that doesn’t mean the Giants can’t get excited for
tomorrow’s tonight’s battle: Zack Greinke vs. Madison Bumgarner.
Gregor Blanco started Monday’s game with a home run to center (!), and scored again in the third on Joe Panik’s safety squeeze to give the Giants a two-run cushion. The Giants had scored two or fewer runs in seven of their previous eight games, so Jake Peavy needed to pitch like Jake Peavy the Giant instead of Jake Peavy the Red Sox/Sock. He did, but the Giants stopped hitting after Blanco’s home run. Blanco only scored the second run after Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig showed poor communication skills in right-center (imagine that), allowing what should’ve been a fairly routine pop fly to put Blanco on third. Other than that, the Giants didn’t get another hit until Joe Panik’s single in the eighth.
The Giants would mount several hope-raising rallies from that point on, but they all ended in heartbreak until the 13th — against former Giant Kevin Correia. Andrew Susac’s two-out single drove in Brandon Belt to put the Giants ahead. Belt scored standing, because unlike Brandon Crawford’s single in the 11th (to Puig, who threw what may have literally been a strike to home plate to nail Belt), Susac’s hit was to Carl Crawford.
“Crawford does a lot of things exceptionally well,” said Vin Scully. “But the one thing he cannot do is throw as a big leaguer.”
With Brandon Crawford on third and Susac on second, Gregor Blanco laced a double past Adrian Gonzalez. Crawford scored an insurance run, and Blanco — who’s made some interesting choices on the basepaths this season — assumed Susac was going to score and got caught up between second and third. After Kemp got the ball into Dee Gordon, it took three rundown throws to get Blanco. Susac scored several seconds before the left side of the Dodgers infield could record the final out of the inning.
It was a night when Blanco could do no wrong, and afterward he was feelin’ himself. Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow wanted to know about Blanco’s home run … OK, that’s partly true. Mostly, they wanted to get the postgame wrap done and get back to their hotel.
“First of all, how are you guys doing?” Blanco asked. “You guys tired?”
Blanco smiled, and Kuiper said he could use a nap.
Peavy gave up two in the fifth, with very little help from a third baseman playing left field in Chris Dominguez. Other than that, same old Peavy. The worry used to be that he’d fade in the sixth inning; Peavy has pitched seven innings in seven of his 11 starts since the trade.
I don’t want to short Peavy, but the bullpen. Wow.
- I’m not sure what happened between Sergio Romo and Shawon Dunston (as seen in Baggs’ tweet above), but Romo carved Puig up like an Easter ham on three nasty pitches before getting Gonzalez and Kemp to fly out.
- Jean Machi had his worst outing of the year the day before and pitched a perfect eighth and ninth at Chavez Ravine.
- Santiago Casilla got out of the 11th and 12th on 6-4-3 double plays.
- Hunter Strickland looked like Robb freaking Nen without the toe tap, firing fastballs by Justin Turner and Scott Van Slyke before getting Gordon on a routine grounder to third. Pretty smooth for the guy’s first save.
The relievers followed Peavy’s four-hit start with six no-hit (unless you count Casilla plunking Darwin Barney, who was the third Dodgers batter to get hit by a pitch by a Giants pitcher) innings. No walks, either.
— Just to remind you where this game took place, here’s Larry Baer talking to Mary Hart and her husband, Burt Sugarman.
— One of these days the Giants are going to score on Brian Wilson. I think. He’s all nibbling soft-tosser now, and after walking Buster Posey he threw three straight balls to Pablo Sandoval. Then it was strike-strike-lunge and Sandoval hit a weak chopper to short.
— Sandoval is 1-for-his-last-22. He’s 9-for-54 since hitting his 16th home run back on Sept. 5. Who knows if he became a little too worried about reaching 20 home runs this season or simply hit a cold spell. I wouldn’t put it past him to hit .450 with a bunch of dingers if the Giants somehow got past the play-in game and went on a postseason run.
— The Pirates won again, so the top two wild card teams are tied. The Pirates are 51-30 at PNC and 34-41 on the road. Even though the Giants have a chance at finishing the season with identical home and road marks, they really, really don’t want to go back to Pittsburgh this year.
— Belt said he wasn’t in tip-top shape when he returned from his concussion, because he wasn’t allowed to do any cardio throughout his recovery. He’s not up to full strength at the plate either, at least from a power standpoint, but you can almost see the fog start to lift with each plate appearance.
— Monday night’s win was the Giants’ first in extra innings since that crazy 14-inning game in Philadelphia on July 22, when Tim Lincecum got the save.
— Add this Pence face to the collection (this catch led to the Peavy photo posted earlier):