Matt Cain pitched five innings against the D-backs.
In a typically April Fools mode, the San Francisco Giants reversed matters from opening night, by scoring all their runs in the first inning, and then allowing the Arizona Diamondbacks to chip away, finally giving them the lead in the sixth. Brandon Belt’s three-run home run in the first was not enough for the Giants, on a night when the D-backs just kept putting the ball in play, going on to win by a score of 5-4. Though Wade Miley was shaky in the first, he settled down afterwards, and along with the bullpen, shut out the Giants the rest of the way.
It didn’t take long tonight to get the fireworks started at Chase Field. Three of the first four San Francisco Giants’ batters hit singles, resulting in Angel Pagan scoring the first run of the game off the bat of Buster Posey. Then, after a Michael Morse strikeout, for the second time in this early going, Brandon Belt drilled one over the center field wall, giving his team a 4-0 lead.
That lasted all of five minutes until the Diamondbacks came to bat in the bottom of the inning. Cain, 14-7, lifetime against the D-backs, with a 3.77 ERA, allowed a lead-off single to Gerardo Parra, before getting Aaron Hill to pop up to Brandon Crawford. Paul Goldschmidt then followed with a double that scored Parra, and then scored himself on Prado’s single. Just as things were getting dangerously close to exploding, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play, and Cain escaped the first, leading 4-2.
After the Giants went quickly in the top of the second, Chris Owings, leading off the bottom of the inning, singled and A.J. Pollock hit one just off the tip of Belt’s glove, so the Snakes had two on and nobody out, just like that. Wade Miley set up as though he were going to bunt, and then pulled the bat back and hit one sharply to Crawford, who threw the lead runner out at third. Parra went to a full count, before hitting one right down the first base line, which Belt made a fine play to snag, and toss to the hustling Cain, for the second out of the inning. The Giants weaseled out of it by getting Hill to ground out to short to end the inning.
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) and manager Bruce Bochy (15) in the dugout .
In the bottom of the fourth, we got to see history in the making when Bruce Bochy challenged a call after Cain threw over to first and Belt tagged a diving Pollock. The ump called him safe, even though it seemed Belt tagged his hand as he dived back. The replay was inconclusive and Bochy lost the call. Ironically, after Parra doubled down the first base line, leaving runners on second and third, during Hill’s at-bat, Parra scored from third on a passed ball. Cain clearly blocked the plate with his glove after taking the throw from Posey, and Pollock’s foot came into contact with his glove, before it skipped over the top and landed smack on the plate. Having reviewed the play over at first, five minutes earlier, the second one was not reviewable. At the end of four, the Giants led, 4-3.
J.C. Gutierrez came on to pitch the sixth, because Cain had reached a hundred pitches. Though that did not surprise me, bringing in Perez as a sixth inning defensive replacement for Morse, did, because it seemed early for a defensive replacement. After Trumbo flied out to center on the first pitch, Owings singled right up the middle, and then stole second, scoring on the ensuing ground-rule double off the bat of A.J. Pollock. A.J. had three hits, after going 0-6 in the opener with four strike outs. Funny game, baseball. Parra then hit the first pitch he saw for a sac fly to Perez in left, breaking the tie and making the score 5-4.
The Giants threatened in the seventh, putting runners on second and third, before Perez took a called third strike, and Pagan popped out to Owings, who almost dropped the ball, making a miraculous recovery and snagging the ball with his bare hand. Turn about is fair play, as the D-backs put two on in their half, but failed to score. Perez got a chance to redeem himself in the ninth, and inexplicably took another called third strike, to end the game. Again, I question Bochy bringing in Perez so early, when Morse is supposed to be providing some offensive pop. Seeing Perez take two called third strikes is not something I ever want to see again.
On a night when the bats spoke up early, and loudly, the pitching could not deliver the win, a disturbing development and hopefully not a trend. In any case, I did not expect to sweep the D-backs, so this one is theirs, but the Giants must come back with a victory tomorrow, or face leaving town with a split-or worse. When it’s Tim Lincecum’s turn, I think he’ll be able to do it. After all, being a Washingtonian, he doesn’t like snakes. Hold that thought, Timmy.
San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports