Without Angel Pagan, Brandon Belt, and Michael Morse, the San Francisco Giants, behind stellar pitching by Madison Bumgarner, and an equally impressive major league debut by Joe Panik, defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at Chase Field, under the closed roof of the dome. The victory allowed the Giants to secure a much-needed series win, even if it came at the expense of the last-place Diamondbacks.
Bumgarner went eight innings plus, giving up one earned run, on two hits, with two walks (both to Paul Goldschmidt) and seven strikeouts. Through the first eight, he faced two batters over the minimum, he was that dominant.
And technically, it was not Panik’s debut, as that came in Saturday night’s game when he drew a walk as a pinch-hitter.
Joe Panik, in his first starting role in the bigs, had as impressive of a game as he could have imagined, short of a walk-off. He singled in the fifth, just after the Giants had scored the first run of the game, and he doubled in an insurance run in the ninth, extending the Giants’ lead to 4-0.
To his credit, Mike Bolsinger was no slouch himself, starting for the D-backs and going seven and two-thirds’ innings, on only 89 pitches. He was replaced by Oliver Perez, who got the third out of the inning, when Gregor Blanco grounded out to second baseman, Aaron Hill.
Bolsinger got the loss, but it was the duo of Evan Marshall and Joe Thatcher, who gave up two singles and two doubles in the top of the ninth, to give the Giants the margin of victory, which they were happy to have when things heated up in the bottom of the ninth.
In the top of the ninth, Hunter Pence led off with his second single of the game, and scored immediately afterward on a booming double by Buster Posey into the left-center field gap. Kirk Gibson figured he had seen enough, and brought in Thatcher. After a pop-up by the 0 for 4 Pablo Sandoval, Brandon Crawford got his second hit of the game, knocking in Buster.
Tyler Colvin, responsible for the Giants’ first run with a double in the fifth inning, struck out, but new kid Joe Panik, already in the got-your-teammate’s-back mode, blistered a ball into the left-center field gap for a double, knocking in Crawford, and giving San Francisco a four-run lead. Matt Stites relieved Thatcher and got a one-pitch screamer off the bat of Joaquin Arias to Martin Prado at third, to end the inning.
After sitting through the long top of the ninth, Bumgarner got no help from his defense, as Crawford misplayed a ball and pinch-hitter Jordan Pacheco ended up on first. Ender Inciarte then hit a hard grounder off the glove of Sandoval that was ruled an infield hit.
Bruce Bochy had seen enough and brought in Sergio Romo to face Martin Prado. Prado singled to center field, scoring Pacheco, and up stepped Paul Goldschmidt, who ended up drawing six walks for the series from Giants’ pitching.
Amazingly, he hit into a double play, begun of course, by the same guy who made the error to start off the inning, Brandon Crawford. Panik handled the exchange perfectly and got Goldschmidt at first to put two outs on the scoreboard. Giants’ killer, Aaron Hill, struck out to end the game.
It was a pitchers’ duel for most of the game, and then things got serious in the ninth. Looking a lot like the team that had the best record in the major leagues only a week ago, the Giants took a series from a team they had to beat. And they did it with a significant contribution from their new second baseman, Joe Panik.
The Giants need to keep it simple, and continue to take two out of every three, and avoid these streaks, both bad and good. It is a formula for success especially when you still lead the division by four games.
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