Just like Wednesday afternoon, the Giants fell behind early. Just like Wednesday afternoon, they slugged their way out of trouble. Thursday’s night’s result was a 6-4 win for the Giants, who currently hold the best record in the National League.
Even with San Francisco playing so well lately, early on this game looked like it would end up like so many other frustrating losses over the years to the Marlins. Matt Cain allowed four runs and two homers over the first three innings, but the early deficits hardly seemed like crushing blows that would prove impossible to overcome … which probably shows just how far this offense has come. They may even be getting cocky now, and who can blame them after they knocked out the National League’s hardest thrower, Nate Eovaldi, before the end of the fifth inning?
The Giants started their comeback when Tyler Colvin hit a double and scored on a Brandon Hicks groundout in the second inning to make it a 3-1 game. Miami answered back with a Casey McGehee double off the right field wall that scored Christian Yelich. At that point the Marlins were up by three once again, they had runners on second and third, and it looked like Cain would be lucky to get through four innings.
But in a way that looked a lot like Madison Bumgarner yesterday in the fifth inning against the Braves, Cain battled. He got Jared Saltalamacchia swinging on a 1-2 changeup, then he retired Reed Johnson two pitches later on fly ball to right.
Who knows what the hell momentum is, or if it even exists, but the Giants dominated the rest of the way. Hunter Pence led off the bottom of the fourth with a sharp opposite field double. The Giants’ Paul Bunyan, Michael Morse, came to the plate two batters later.
Morse was scuffling for a few days there, but that clearly ended with yesterday’s home run to left. Tonight he swatted a 99-mph fastball from Eovaldi into the area just above the Levi’s Landing sign and into the arcade for his 10th home run of the year. The Giants went “YES! YES! YES!” in the dugout, although Ryan Vogelsong looks like he’d prefer a more traditional form of celebration.
GIF via @gidget:
It was the Giants’ 50th home run of the season. Does that sound like a lot? It should, because the Giants didn’t hit No. 50 last season until June 23.
Of course their work wasn’t done; after Cain settled in and kept Miami off the board for two innings, the Giants embarked on a three-run rally in the bottom of the fifth with the help of a little luck.
Angel Pagan worked a full count walk. Pence hit a slow chopper down the line that connected with his left foot as he flail-sprinted to first. His left foot was actually in fair territory, but home plate umpire Lance Barksdale said the ball was foul. That particular play isn’t reviewable, and Pence took advantage of the gift by knocking a single to right. Eovaldi had to be pissed with the way that all went down, and then Buster Posey escalated things with a double to deep right center to drive in Pagan and a VERY fired up Pence.
Then Pablo Sandoval — who looks like he’s liable to take one deep sometime very soon — hit a fly ball that sent Posey to third, and Morse singled him home. After Colvin hit his second double off Eovaldi, the flamethrower was taken out of the game and it was official: it takes more than a little heat to scare this bunch right now.
The scoring stopped abruptly after that, as Cain got his “timing” (his description) figured out and kept the Marlins at bay. His seventh inning was the strongest, as he faced the top of Miami’s lineup and struck out the first two hitters before getting Giancarlo Stanton to fly out to center. Cain went seven and two-thirds innings, struck out seven and earned his first win since Aug. 17 … at Miami.
“Kill the win” is a commonly heard phrase (at least in Brian Kenny’s house), but Bruce Bochy admitted that the “zero” on the left hand side of Cain’s win-loss record was probably getting to him a little.
“You still want wins. You’ve got a goose egg sitting there if you’re a starting pitcher, I think that gets old after a while. Even though you may be doing your job. He had a couple starts where he gave up one run in seven innings and we couldn’t win those games for him. Good for him to at least get a win here. It was a matter of time before it got talked about. And of course the players are probably needling him a little bit. It’s got to be a good feeling,” Bochy said.
“Yeah, it’s been a long time,” said Cain.
— Drake’s “Started From The Bottom” was blasting in the clubhouse when we walked in after the game. After covering this team last year, the song seemed to resonate — even though they didn’t finish in last place in the NL West and won two World Series in the previous four seasons.
— Colvin’s first three games as a Giant: 2-for-3, 2-for-5, 2-for-4, three doubles, one triple, one homer.
— I counted six opposite-field base hits from the Giants, including Morse’s homer, three of the team’s four doubles, and all three hits from Pence (who went 7-for-10 in the last two games). I asked Bochy if that was the Giants’ offensive approach against Eovaldi and the Marlins bullpen.
“How hard he was throwing might have had something to do with that. When you have somebody throwing 97, 98, you’re probably going to go to the oppo sometimes,” he said.
“With that said, sure, you’re hoping guys go with the pitch. Morse hit the home run to right, he’s got that kind of power. That’s where power comes in. You get three runs, and the home run gets you back in it. That’s what happened today. I thought the guys had a good approach. They threw out some good at-bats off some tough pitching tonight.”
— I asked Morse if he had ever turned around a 99 mph fastball to that extent.
“Uh, no. I don’t know what to tell you, man. I just try to make contact. Just touch it. Keep an easy, short swing. That’s the best you can do on something like that.”
— Henry Schulman asked Morse about the dugout celebration, and if you need to “raise the roof” to get a high-five. Morse’s lips were sealed.
“No. Can’t tell you about it. Clubhouse secret,” said Morse, who went 3-for-4.
— Sergio Romo (who pitched a perfect ninth for his 14th save) on Morse’s power: “We’ve seen him hit some home runs against us in the past. We watch ESPN SportsCenter too, so we knew the pop he has. To see him every day, it’s impressive. It’s real. It’s no joke.”
— More Romo, this time discussing the good vibes that are sure to follow when a team wins 16 of their last 21 games.
“I don’t feel that you can ever really count us out. Baseball’s an incredible sport, you really don’t know what’s going to happen next. Our team’s a really good example of that. Every day it seems a different hero, a different guy who came through. It was really fun to get it back. We fell down early and Cain got in a groove and held them there. We believe in ourselves, so it’s fun to play right now as a Giant … It’s just fun to see everybody happy. That’s probably the most impressive thing.”