The San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers engaged in their only Cactus League contest today, with the Giants coming out on top, 3-2. Edwin Escobar pitched the first three innings for the Giants, giving up one run on one hit, and Brandon Hicks hit a two-run blast off of Clayton Kershaw, and eventually accounted for all three San Francisco runs. Kershaw pitched the first five innings for the Dodgers, giving up a total of two runs and five hits.
The Dodgers got things started with a bang in the bottom of the first inning. With Edwin Escobar pitching for the Giants, Chone Figgins drew a walk and ended up scoring on the ensuing put-out of A.J. Ellis, a fine play by Escobar to snag a bullet of a grounder and get Ellis at first. Unfortunately, Brandon Belt made a rare throwing error while trying to nail Figgins advancing to third. When Belt makes an error, he does not fool around. In commenting on the play, Jon Miller quipped that the ball “was over Pablo’s (Pablo Sandoval) head by eight feet.”
Before Escobar could collect his thoughts, Yasiel Puig drilled the first pitch down the right field line for a double and Adrian Gonzalez walked. Escobar got out of it by getting Justin Turner to fly out, and after yielding yet another walk to Mike Baxter, getting Alex Guerrero to ground into a force-out, Pablo to Brandon Hicks at second.
The Giants came back in the second when, after there were two quick outs, Joaquin Arias singled and Brandon Hicks sent one out over the right field wall off of Clayton Kershaw, who had retired the Giants in order in the top of the first. Jon Miller was laughing at the way Puig reacted to Hicks’s drive, saying, “Puig looked stunned to see the ball carry so far,” while Mike Krukow added, “The Giants have been looking for a guy who could hit off of Kershaw and they may have found him.”
That was it for scoring until the bottom of the seventh when Dan Runzler, relieving Jason Berken, gave up two singles and two walks, the second to Drew Butera, forcing in a second run and tying the game at two apiece. The Giants escaped when Juan Gutierrez got Brandon Harris to ground out to second, leaving the bases full. Berken threw three shutout innings, recording seven of his nine outs on infield ground balls, while the final two outs came on called third strikes. It made for an impressive stint and could not help but attract the kind of attention that every rookie in camp is seeking.
Brett Bochy came on to pitch the last of the eighth and Dee Gordon made it interesting by scampering around to third on an error by catcher Tyler LaTorre. With two outs and two on, Bruce Bochy went out to the mound to talk to Brett Bochy. “Just a little father-son chat…” as Jon Miller phrased it. With Scott Van Slyke, son of former major leaguer Andy Van Slyke, batting, Peterson stole second uncontested, and Van Slyke went on to draw a walk, loading the bases.
Bochy senior then returned to the mound, this time bringing the hook and replacing Bochy Junior with Jean Machi. “This is the kind of a spot that Machi might be summoned for during the regular season,” commented Miller. “He’s not afraid,” added Krukow. Machi proceeded to get Butera swinging to end the inning, and the Dodgers stranded three for the third time in the game.
The Giants had to be encouraged by Escobar’s outing, and the fact that both Gutierrez and Machi came in with the bags jammed and retired the only batter faced for the final out. Machi went on to slam the door in the ninth with a one-two-three inning.
So look for Edwin Escobar to continue to make his presence known, now that he is demonstrating he can handle the hot seat at the major league level. He sizzled at both Single and Double A ball last season, and the Giants feel that even if he cools off to hot, that might be enough to shore up the starting pitching over the course of the season.
Meanwhile, after the lopsided loss yesterday, it was grand to see a return of National League action. Get used to it. The Giants play the Dodgers nineteen times this season, and most of them will end in one-run decisions. It’s just nice to see that the youngsters have got the right idea already.