Leaving nothing to chance when it comes to drama, the San Francisco Giants waited until there were two outs in the bottom of the ninth, before unleashing Brandon Hicks on the Cleveland Indians, who watched his home run blast sail into the stands for a 4-1 San Francisco victory and a series sweep. The win was the fourth in a row for the streaking Giants and was engineered by Ryan Vogelsong, who threw seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball, making everyone quickly experience amnesia, forgetting about that hideous start, all of five days ago.
Until Hicks’s bomb in the ninth, the Giants had been able to score only one run on a pair of two-out doubles by Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford. Pablo went on to get a second hit, this one with two strikes, an accomplishment he managed for the first time in 43 trips to the plate this season. Catcher Yan Gomes’s third home run of the season in the eighth, off of Santiago Casilla, accounted for the Tribe’s only run. Sergio Romo (2-0) pitched the ninth, picking up his second win.
Danny Salazar started for Cleveland and pitched superbly for seven strong innings, giving up five hits and one walk, and striking out eight batters. The loss went to Cody Allen who relieved Marc Rzepczynski with two out in the eighth, and went on to pitch the ninth. With two on, the Indians elected to walk Brandon Crawford and up stepped Hicks. Whether or not he was motivated to hit his home run, by the fact that he was walked, is immaterial. It was his second career walk-off, the first having come while playing for the Oakland A’s, hit against the Texas Rangers.
The player of the game, though, has to be Ryan Vogelsong. His last start, in which he gave up five earned runs in one and a third innings, has weighed heavily on his mind, as well as about ten million of his closest friends in the Land of the Orange and Black, so this is the stuff of which sweet dreams are made. Even today, he was constantly behind on the count, but unlike past starts, he got stronger when behind, and only walked two.
The Giants need Ryan Vogelsong to pitch as he did today, and they need guys like Brandon Hicks to keep stepping up when the game is on the line and delivering, at least until Pablo gets his head out of the clouds and back into the swing of things.
Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres come into AT&T Park tomorrow, and I feel pretty confident that the Giants are about to seek some collateral damage for the havoc wreaked last week by San Diego’s pitching staff, and I think Madison Bumgarner is the guy to do it. Stay tuned.