The Giants had to win this game, with Madison Bumgarner pitching and the Dodgers falling behind by a half dozen runs at Coors before Andrew Chafin threw the game’s first pitch. They beat the D-Backs 4-2, which on its own sounds exactly like what you’d expect. But this wasn’t the same kind of 4-2 victory the Dodgers enjoyed with Clayton Kershaw leading the way on Sunday at AT&T. This was a struggle, a slog in which the Giants fought everything except the elements in a sparsely populated box known as Chase Field.
With the game knotted at 2-2 in the top of the ninth, Pablo Sandoval walked on five pitches. Andrew Susac struck out looking on three. Brandon Crawford hit a sinking liner that fell in front of Cody Ross in right, his fourth hit of the day (Crawford’s streaky nature is treating the Giants well these days). For whatever reason, Sandoval held up at second — even though he had no shot at getting back to first if Ross somehow made a miraculous catch. No matter.
Up stepped Brandon Belt, who hadn’t faced live pitching in over a month. In fact, the plan was/is for Belt to stay in the state of Arizona during tomorrow’s off day and face a Giants minor league pitcher or two. But today he walked to load the bases after running the count full. That brought up Matt Duffy, who in the process of swinging and missing at a 2-1 fastball down the middle, flung his bat about 10 rows into the stands. Two pitches later, Duffy became the hero with a two-run single to center.
This was the perfect outcome, and not just because Santiago Casilla survived Pablo Sandoval’s two-out error to collect his 17th save. After today’s game, the veterans will make the team’s sizable rookie contingent dress up in some kind of embarrassing costume (click here for an example of what they may be facing). Hunter Pence was using the heads of Gary Brown and Juan Perez as bongo drums to help ignite that ninth inning rally from the dugout. Duffy never even played in Triple-A, for goodness sake.
Where would the Giants be without these rookies? Fighting the Brewers for the second wild card spot, if that.
Bumgarner, on the prowl for win No. 19, was pitching to Andrew Susac instead of Buster Posey. He ran into trouble in every inning but the sixth, his last. In the first, Bumgarner and Susac benefitted from the luckiest of breaks. Susac got crossed up on in an inside fastball with runners on second and third. The ball caromed off the backstop right to Susac, who calmly ran four steps back to the plate and made a sliding tag on Ender Inciarte, who probably thought scoring on such a wild-looking pitch would be a piece of cake.
Jean Machi struck out Miguel Montero with a hanging splitter to lead off the seventh, then gave up a single and a walk before getting out of the inning on a flyball to Juan Perez and three perfect breaking pitches for strikes to Mark Trumbo. I was certain Trumbo was going hit one of Machi’s pitches really, really far. Then Machi went from throwing hangers to placing each pitch exactly where it needed to go. I was surprised Bruce Bochy let Machi stay in to face A.J. Pollock, let alone Trumbo … I should know better than to second-guess Bochy this late in the season.
— Since the Dodgers lost 16-2 (which should probably make everyone around here feel a little better about the infamous Hudson/Lincecum/Kickham/Bochy affair on Saturday night), the Giants get a short, happy flight to San Diego after climbing back to within two games of the Dodgers. Maybe they’ll get together somewhere in the Gaslamp tomorrow evening to watch Zack Greinke take on the Chicago Cubs’ young, powerful hackers.
— The Dodgers will face Tsuyoshi Wada, who pitched five shutout innings against the Giants on Aug. 19. The Dodgers scored two runs against Wada over 5 2/3 innings on Aug. 2 in Los Angeles in a game the Dodgers won 5-2 in the 12th on a three-run homer by Hanley Ramirez. Ramirez hasn’t started for two straight games due to a strained right elbow.
— Wild Card update: the Giants are three games ahead of Pittsburgh (two in the loss column) and 4.5 games up on Milwaukee (four in the loss column).
— Sounds like there’s some good news on the Angel Pagan front — the MRI on his back showed inflammation instead of something more serious, and he said his chances of playing on Friday are “big time.” I’m not really sure what that means, but it sounds positive.
— He’s seen better days, but Bumgarner allowed just two runs in six innings — his ninth straight quality start.
— Crawford’s September batting average is .442 (19-for-43) after hitting .173 in July and .193 in August.
— Duffy is 4-for-10 as a pinch hitter, which included an important double against the Diamondbacks in the seventh inning of their 5-0 win a week ago. As his reward, he gets to wear a pink cowgirl outfit. He surely doesn’t mind at all after spending most of the year in Richmond, VA with the Flying Squirrels.
— I didn’t get to write a recap of last night’s game, because a server issue kept me from logging in and doing anything to the site (which is a fancy way of saying the internet wasn’t working in my mom’s basement). But I have to share these photos of Peavy’s reactions after allowing the tying run in the sixth, just because.
— Who was shown talking to Duffy in the bottom of the ninth after today’s huge hit? Did you even need to ask?