San Francisco Giants Win Opener Against Dodgers; Have Biggest Lead In NL West Since 2003
By Bryan Rose
The trade deadline in the National League West, both pre and post waiver, was full of All-Star talent moving from coast to coast. From Adrian Gonzalez to Carl Crawford – from Hanley Ramirez to Hunter Pence – the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers both loaded up on high priced, big name players.
September 7, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) pitches the ball against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at AT&T Park – ©Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE
Little did either squad know that it would be the oft traveled infielder Marco Scutaro who would, at least so far, prove to be the best acquisition.
With the score tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 7th inning, it was the San Felipe native that sent 42,000+ into a frenzy with a bases loaded single, giving the Giants a 4-2 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish (they tacked on another in the 8th, making the final score 5-2). The two RBI grenade over first base gave Scutaro 26 runs knocked in through 39 games for the Giants, boosting his average on the north side of .330 with the black and orange.
Lincecum Battles – It was far from an ideal night for Tim Lincecum, who walked a career high seven batters – but despite bending, at times heavily, Tiny Tim never broke. Lacking command with his hard stuff, Linecum did his best to get by on his changeup and slider, both of which were effective – mixing in a few good fastballs and splits that seemingly just happened to come around at the exact times he needed them, none bigger than the strikeouts to Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez with runners in scoring position. An inexplicable 0-2, 2 out location mistake to Adam Kennedy blew a potential chance at a win as Kennedy took Lincecum deep off the tin roof for his second round-tripper of the year, but the Giants were able to get the Freak off the hook for a loss in his 6.1 innings of two run ball.
Top O’ Da Order – Looking at the box score from the three to six hitters, you’d wonder how the Giants mustered any runs tonight – but it was the top of the order that did the damage this evening as both Angel Pagan and Marco Scutaro gave Josh Beckett fits, knocking in three of the five runs. A two out single from Pagan put the Giants on the board early, taking back the momentum the Dodgers had just gained moments earlier, while Scutaro of course had the big (and eventual) game winning hit after Pagan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Throw in a stolen base for Angel and the top two bats for the G’s did work.
Bullpen Holds Strong – It’s been a rough few weeks for the Giants’ bullpen, but they came through tonight – in a big way. Santiago Cassilla, entering the game for Tim Lincecum, stranded two runners on base, going through the heart of the Dodgers’ lineup in the process. Jamming Matt Kemp produced the second out of the inning while whiffing Hanley halted the Dodgers’ threat, keeping momentum on the Giants side who ended up taking the lead in the next half inning. Jeremy Affeldt and Sergio Romo finished off the 8th, while Romo returned for the 9th, sitting down the Dodgers in order.
Oh. And this happened:
The win pushed the Giants to 78-60, a five and a half game lead (six game lead in the loss column) over the Dodgers who fell to 73-66. The Giants’ magic number fell to 19, giving the Giants their biggest lead in the National League West since 2003.
Both of the next two games will have National coverage, tomorrow afternoon on Fox while Sunday’s game will have a 5:00 PM start time for ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball.