Brandon Crawford was bad against left-handed pitching last year. Really bad. He had a .199 average and .546 OPS in 160 plate appearances against southpaws in 2013. But his numbers against righties and lefties were almost equal in 2012, and today he continued his habit of mashing left-handers during this young season with a majestic game-winning blast into McCovey Cove off Rex Brothers in the 10th inning.
The Giants won 5-4 to clinch their latest home series, against a Rockies team that looked a bit stronger than the one we saw a year ago. It was a big win for many reasons, especially since losing their first two home series would’ve led to an off-day of fan freak-outs (translation: widespread panic from KNBR callers), especially with the Dodgers coming to town on Tuesday.
While he’s only had 17 plate appearances against lefties this season, Crawford looks like a new man. He has a homer, triple and three doubles against left-handers, and his slash line is a ridiculous .500/.588/1.071. Whether some tips from Barry Bonds helped, or a fire was lit when Bruce Bochy stated before the season that Crawford could sit against certain lefties, the Giants will take the results.
As they will from Tim Hudson, who, like Madison Bumgarner on Friday, came through with a high-quality start despite allowing four earned runs. The Giants have taxed their bullpen early this season, to the point where it’s possible they’ll keep 13 pitchers when Jeremy Affeldt comes back. Hudson went 7.1 innings on Sunday afternoon, giving him 23 innings through three starts.
He breezed through the first six innings, allowing nothing besides a solo homer from Wilin Rosario in the second and a single by Charlie Blackmon in the third. Justin Morneau hit a solo home run in the seventh, and after consecutive doubles and a sacrifice bunt, Bruce Bochy replaced Hudson with Javier Lopez.
Walt Weiss countered by replacing Blackmon (who hits left-handed) with Drew Stubbs (who doesn’t). Stubbs hit a single between Pablo Sandoval and Crawford, and the game was tied at 4-4.
The Giants were behind 1-0 until the fifth, when Hunter Pence got plunked in the arm (Happy Birthday, Hunter!) to start the rally. Michael Morse hit a ball about 115 mph and 15 feet high at its apex that put a dent in the left field wall — if the Giants come up with a more impressive single all season, I’ll be surprised. Crawford hit a sacrifice fly, Brandon Hicks singled and Tim Hudson lined out, but the runners moved to second and third on a wild pitch during Hudson’s at-bat.
Then it was Mr. Clutch, Angel Pagan, who hit a two-out single to give the Giants a 3-1 lead. The lead became three runs in the sixth inning, when Sandoval mashed a solo shot that would’ve landed in the cove but hit one of the flag poles in the back of the arcade.
— In case you’re wondering if this site only covers Giants wins, I would’ve been at yesterday’s 1-0 Caining (or at least written about it), but I was at a wedding all afternoon. Based on the box score, Matt Cain looks like he’s figured something out. Then again, I didn’t watch the game and Cain always seems to dispatch the Rockies with ease. I’ll have to check out the game on DVR.
— According to the Giants, Hudson’s 23 innings without a walk to start the season surpasses Atlee Hammaker’s previous record of 21 innings (since 1914).
— The Giants bullpen has a combined ERA of 1.99.
— Tim Flannery tried sending Gregor Blanco home on a triple after Michael Cuddyer stumbled around and the ball ended up rattling around near the right field wall. Cuddyer and D.J. Lemahieu pulled off a perfect relay, however, and Blanco was tagged out by Rosario at home in the most sensitive of areas.
— Yes, Flannery followed Blanco all the way down the line.
— Three Giants had multi-hit games: Pagan (his eighth of the season), Sandoval (who raised his average to .180 and looks like he’s coming to back to life) and Hicks (who’s hitting .368 and could solidify a starting job if he can figure out a way to clean up his defense).