Down 5-1 to the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Francisco Giants rallied going into the bottom of the sixth, getting their first six batters on base on the way to tying it up, and going ahead in the bottom of the eighth to eventually take a 6-5 win away from the Phils. After last night’s disheartening loss in extra innings, today’s game instills new hope-yet again-for those who have not abandoned ship.
Though Hunter Pence got things started quickly in the first with a solo shot, it was the Phillies who established that they had brought their bats, by scoring two runs in the third and three more in the fifth, taking a formidable 5-1 lead. They began in the third with a one-out walk to Jimmy Rollins and a single by Chase Utley, bringing Ryan Howard to the plate for the second time in the game. He singled in Rollins, and Marlon Byrd followed with a sac fly, knocking in Utley and making the score 2-1.
In the fifth they batted around, beginning with leadoff man Ben Revere (4 for 5 on the day), who singled and stole second before Rollins drew a walk. Utley doubled in Revere, Howard singled in both Rollins and Utley, and if it weren’t for pitcher Kyle Kendrick striking out to end the inning, the third time he had whiffed to end an inning this game, they might still be batting yet.
For the game, Revere went 4 for 5 (three 1B, 2B), Howard went 3 for 5 (two 1B, 2B), Chase Utley and Wil Nieves each had two hits and Jimmy Rollins drew two walks. Marlon Byrd contributed with a double in that fifth inning rally, an RBI-sac fly and he was walked intentionally to load the bases in the sixth inning, but Dominic Brown hit a come-backer to end the inning.
The Giants came alive in the bottom of the sixth with Buster Posey leading off with a single to center field. Pablo Sandoval then popped up a mile-high ball on the first-base side of the pitcher’s mound, which appeared to be Howard’s all the way. At the last instant, he ducked forward and the ball dropped behind him.
What occurred next was ruled a fielder’s choice and an error on Utley, but what actually happened was that Utley picked up the ball after it bounced and he was facing home plate. Sensing the base runner (Posey) charging towards second, he flipped the ball behind his back to Rollins, except the ball sailed wide enough to allow Posey to slide safely into second. He was charged with an error, in what seemed a ridiculous ruling. It was either an infield hit, or an error on Howard-not an error on Utley. This brought Michael Morse to the plate.
Morse had already led off the second inning with his second triple of the year, and walked in the fourth. He hammered a ball deep into right-center field for an RBI-double, Sandoval stopping at third. Adam Duvall, batting for Travis Ishikawa, still with no outs, drew a walk and Joe Panik followed with a high infield chopper, that took long enough to descend to allow him to beat the throw to first, Sandoval scoring the second run of the inning, making the score now, 5-3.
Gregor Blanco, batting in the eight-hole for Brandon Crawford, singled in Morse to make it 5-4 and Angel Pagan tied the score with a sac fly, Adam Duvall scoring the fifth run of the game. Unfortunately, Pence struck out to end the threat.
Joe Panik did all he could to make sure the game did not go into extra innings, by hammering the first triple of his young career leading off the bottom of the eighth inning. Facing Jake Diekman, who was thowing 99 miles per hour, the next batter, Gregor Blanco, hit the deck after the first pitch danced pretty close to his chin.
But like Joe Panik the night before, Blanco got up and hit the next pitch solidly into left field, scoring the go-ahead run, and making everyone in the stadium believe as I did, that Blanco did not appreciate being brushed back. That kind of reaction two consecutive nights to high, inside pitches, sends a message to the rest of the league:
For Philadelphia Kyle Kendrick started and pitched into the sixth. The first five innings the only damage the Giants could do was Hunter Pence’s first-inning home run. However, after the first three Giants reached base during the sixth inning rally, he was replaced by Mario Hollands. The final line on Kendrick was 5+ IP, with 5 H, 4 R (3 ER), 2 BB, and 1 K. That’s 5-4-3-2-1, if you’re keeping score.
Tim Hudson started for the Giants and went 4+ IP, giving up 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, while striking out 3. Obviously trying to atone for last night’s break-down, the bullpen combined to work the final scoreless four innings.
Juan Gutierrez and Javier Lopez walked a tightrope in the sixth, but got out of bases-loaded, two-out situation when Brown hit the come-backer to end the inning. Jean Machi pitched the seventh, Jeremy Affeldt pitched the eighth and one out into the ninth, before Sergio Romo came in to close it out.
In a much-needed victory, there were many singular moments:
- Pence’s first-inning home run
- Morse’s three extra-base hits, especially the triple, indicating that he has found his stroke
- Affeldt’s successful performance, after last night’s game
- Panik’s high chopper that seemed to hang forever, allowing Pablo to score from third
- seeing Blanco get 97ed under the chin (Mike Krukow’s description) and hitting the next pitch into left field to give the Giants an eighth-inning lead. Blanco also contributed a key RBI single in the sixth-inning uprising
- the infield pop fly that dropped in behind Howard, and the fact that it was Posey who was the runner advancing to second. Utley had all day to make the toss…
- Matt Duffy’s eighth inning base hit
- Sergio Romo being solid for the save
This was baseball the way we got accustomed to seeing back in the first third of the season. The Giants are still in the middle of a pennant race and with games like the one today, there is still hope. Great success!