Angel Pagan hit the third pitch of the game over the left field wall, for his seventh lead-off homer, and Buster Posey launched one of his own two batters later, and the San Francisco Giants went on to defeat the San Diego Padres, 6-0, Tuesday night, under balmy, 72 degree weather at AT&T Park. Yusmeiro Petit, pressed into service just after batting practice concluded before the start of the game, did tonight what he did so well last year: provide long relief for the starting pitchers. He worked six innings, giving up no runs on three hits, walking none and striking out four.
At least for the moment, the Giants (16-11) set aside notions that the Padres (13-15) had some sort of hold over them. Displaying offensive power in the first inning with the two home runs and a double, and then following up with a four-hit, two-walk third inning, the Giants controlled the game from the first batter to the last. Three Giants’ pitchers faced two batters over the minimum, in a vulgar display of pitching strength.
Petit pitched to two batters over the minimum over six full innings, demonstrating that the Giants have the luxury of being able to withstand a spot injury to a starter, without negative repercussions. Jean Machi did his share with two perfect innings of relief, taking the game to the ninth. Santiago Casilla threw ten pitches in dispatching the Padres in the final frame.
Original starter Matt Cain was scratched because he cut himself in the clubhouse kitchen, while making a sandwich. He sustained a half-inch cut on his right index finger which did not require stitches. It is not certain if he will miss more than this one start. The Giants have scored 19 first-inning runs, second most in the National League to the Rockies’ 20. The Giants have now hit a home run in seven straight games.
As for Petit’s fill-in role, Bochy would not have extended the pitch count much past 75 pitches, so he would have been happy with five innings. Anything over that was gravy. To have Petit face only two batters over the minimum through six was beyond Bochy’s wildest expectations. Petit was consistently ahead of the count while walking none and striking out four.
Eric Stults started for the Padres but it was evident from the first batter (Pagan) on that he was not the answer for San Diego. He was removed with two outs in the third, after giving up five runs, on seven hits, with two walks, one of them intentional. Donn Roach relieved him and pitched well through the seventh, giving up one run on two hits.
The emergence of Hector Sanchez as a clutch hitter, continued tonight when he came to the plate in the third inning with two outs, after Pablo Sandoval had been intentionally walked. On a 1-1 pitch, he singled in Hunter Pence and Buster Posey. He added a third RBI in the fifth on a sacrifice fly. Sanchez’ ability to assume duties behind the plate, gives Bochy the flexibility to move Buster to first. The benefit of this, right now, is that Bochy can then sit Brandon Belt for a little breather, with no let-up in the offense.
Brandon Hicks continued to shine defensively at second base, fielding a fourth-inning ground ball right at the bag, and converting it into a snappy double play. There was a lot going on with Crawford converging on second base from the shortstop side, for Hicks to have been able to snag the ball, avoid Crawford, step on the bag and fire off an accurate throw to Buster Posey at first.
Along the same lines, Michael Morse made a sterling catch to end the fifth inning on a shallow drive off the bat of Alexi Amarista. He had to come racing in and catch it on the backhand. I really think we are seeing a case of Morse taking his success at the plate out to the field with him. He seems to be gaining confidence which allows him to try for a catch like the one tonight in the first place. He wants to hold his own with Pence and Pagan.
Evening the series with San Diego was crucial, and makes the current Giants’ home-stand record, 4-1. By taking the finale tomorrow, the Giants can even the season series with San Diego at three apiece. The Padres are going to be trouble all season because their pitching is so good. At least we know from their performance tonight, that the Giants are up to the task.