The San Francisco Giants used the long ball Wednesday night in Denver, hitting three doubles and three home runs to even the series with the Colorado Rockies, 5-1. The cost of this victory was inordinately expensive, though, as both Matt Cain (strained right hamstring) and Santiago Casilla went down with injuries.
Matt Cain started and pitched three complete innings, giving up no runs and no hits, allowing only one base runner. Though it is unclear exactly how the injury occurred, he had just fielded a low liner off the bat of D.J. LeMahieu, and looked awkward while stumbling over the pitcher’s mound. As he delivered his last pitch of the inning, he appeared to grab the back of his thigh and grimace in discomfort.
Adding insult to injury, Casilla, batting with two outs and no one on in the ninth, much to the amusement of his teammates, hit a sharp grounder to second. In trying to beat it out with a sprint down the first base line, he stumbled, lost his balance and ended up prone on the far side of first, writhing on the ground in pain. It looked gruesome to watch and reminded me of David Huff’s injury while also running out a base hit.
The Giants hit solo home runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, while building up a 5-0 lead, and cruised to the rare easy win, while using five pitchers out of the bullpen to compensate for the departed Cain. Considering how last night’s game ended, the Giants appeared bent on avoiding drama.
Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford (second level) all hit solo home runs, with Hector Sanchez getting an RBI double. Michael Morse also doubled in the sixth and scored, and hit a ball up the middle in the eighth that deflected off the pitcher’s glove to the second baseman, who then threw him out at first. The play resulted in an RBI for Morse, for the Giants’ fifth run of the game.
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The Rockies’ lone run came on a double play ball off the bat of Michael Cuddyer, after they had loaded the bases with no one out to start the ninth. After getting their leadoff man on base six times in Tuesday night’s game, the Rockies had only just succeeded in accomplishing the same thing for the first time in the eighth. The league’s hottest hitter, Troy Tulowitzki, then flied out to Tyler Colvin in left field to end the threat.
After Cain was removed, Yusmeiro Petit came in and got the Giants through the sixth, giving up no runs on two hits. Juan Gutierrez needed just ten pitches to get the Giants through the seventh, so Bruce Bochy left him in to start the eighth. Four pitches later, there were two Rockies on base and Javier Lopez was coming into the game.
Lopez got the ground ball he wanted, but Crawford could do nothing but collar the ball and watch the dust settle on the bases filled with Rockies. Casilla came in and got a textbook double play ball and the Giants wriggled off the hook. Jeremy Affeldt pitched a perfect ninth and Sergio Romo got to sit this one out.
For the Rockies, Jhoulys Chacin started and went five and two-thirds’ innings, giving up three runs on four hits with two walks. Nick Masset got the final out of the sixth inning, and Matt Belisle pitched the seventh, giving up the solo home run to Crawford. Tommy Kahnle pitched the eighth and one out into the ninth, giving up one run, and Boone Logan got the final two outs to close out the ninth.
No game is a must-win game this early in the season, but this one came close to it, after the way last night’s game ended so abysmally. Now that the Giants have taken the second game, they must break the pattern of the home team taking the series, by having Tim Hudson return to his regular start in the rotation, and lead them to the win in the series finale. Tomorrow’s contest is a day game before San Francisco returns to AT&T Park for their next inter-league match with the Minnesota Twins.
Sep 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) celebrates with teammates after hitting a grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports