Brandon Crawford hit a first-pitch fast ball in the bottom of the tenth for a splash home run, his first career walk-off shot, and the San Francisco Giants got past the Colorado Rockies 5-4, today, at AT&T Park, giving the Giants their third series victory out of four to begin the season. Tim Hudson was masterful for most of the game, but ended up giving up four runs on five hits, while Sergio Romo got the win, pitching to the minimum three batters in the top of the tenth.
Angel Pagan continued his red-hot hitting, singling in two runs to break a 1-1 tie in the fifth, Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4, including a solo home run, and Brandon Hicks went 2 for 2 with a walk, as the Giants broke through their scoreless streak of seventeen innings, taking a 4-1 lead in the sixth.
Tyler Chatwood pitched well also, but gave up a key 2-run single to Pagan and a solo shot to Sandoval. Through five innings, Tim Hudson had thrown 57 pitches, Tyler Chatwood, 56 pitches. It was very taut through the first half of the game. Hudson gave up solo home runs to Wilin Rosario and and Justin Morneau, and then back-to-back doubles to lead off the eighth to Arenado and LeMahieu, and that was almost the extent of responsibilities. Hudson has yet to walk a batter this season.
The big story is Crawford, of course. His well-publicized struggle with left-handers, makes his splash shot off lefty Rex Brothers that much more telling. Crawford also had a sacrifice fly in the fifth, when the Giants scored three runs. Michael Morse hit one so hard during this inning, that it ricocheted off the left field wall back to the fielder, and made it impossible for Morse to consider taking second base.
But a smaller story is that of Pablo Sandoval right now, in light of his strikeout in the eighth inning of yesterday’s game, against Rex Brothers. Sandoval is a career .295 hitter, going into today’s game batting .150 (7-46). I watched Greg Papa interview Giants insider Andrew Baggarly, before the game today, and Papa asked Bags about Pablo being dropped in the batting order.
Baggarly said that Bochy didn’t want to comment publicly on any guy’s status, but that with the Dodgers coming into town, he needed Sandoval to be at his best, and moving him lower in the order did not exactly instill confidence in the third baseman. Baggarly went on to say that Bochy thinks Sandoval has a good approach, but that if he keeps struggling, then he’d have to lower him in the order. After today’s pair of hits, including a homer, Bochy is looking pretty smart.
Today’s game was crucial, with the Los Angeles Dodgers coming into town on Tuesday, for a series rematch of the earlier one, in which the Giants took two out of three. The Dodgers are the team to beat, but taking the series from the Rockies is a good warm-up. Tim Lincecum is up Tuesday, and it’s a good bet he would like to do his part to keep the ball rolling, all the way into first place.