Gregor Blanco powers San Francisco Giants over New York Mets
By Mark ONeill
There is an assembly-line of intriguing facts and figures regarding the San Francisco Giants’ current streak of five consecutive comeback victories, to accompany the recap on Sunday’s series finale against the New York Mets, won by the Giants, 6-4.
The game was a typical (of late) Tim Lincecum production, complete with first-inning obligatory hole in the sand, and ensuing Giants comeback. The two glittering differences were the single base on balls given up by Timmy and the [successful] pick-off move against Matt den Decker in the first inning of the game, saving a run when Curtis Granderson belted a two-run shot, minutes later.
Any drama fans might have expected upon Zack Wheeler’s return, evaporated when Gregor Blanco doubled down the right-field line in the third, bringing the Giants from behind, and handing them a 3-2 lead. They would extend their lead in the third to 4-2, after Hunter Pence took a fastball to the ribs, and eventually scored on a double-play ball off the bat of Michael Morse. Even when Morse doesn’t get it done, he still gets it done. The Giants bench got awfully quiet after Hunter took the ball in the ribs.
Lincecum managed to keep his team close on Sunday, another trademark Timmy characteristic, and the bullpen took over in the seventh. Timmy has a 5-4 mark against the league, but the Giants are 9-4 in his 13 starts, and that’s a stat that makes Bruce Bochy break out a big smile.
Juan Gutierrez pitched the seventh and was referred to by Bochy during the postgame interview, as his bridge to the eighth inning. His comment was made in reference to the fact that Gutierrez has not surrendered a run at AT&T Park yet this season, in 12+ innings; overall, he is 1-1, with a 2.93 ERA in 27.2 innings over 26 games.
Jeremy Affeldt and Jean Machi pitched the eighth, with Machi wild-pitching a run home that was charged to Affeldt. And when Bochy tried to get fancy in the ninth by having Javier Lopez begin the inning by pitching to the left-handed batting lead-off man, he got bit. Lopez walked his man, meaning that Sergio Romo had the same job as always, only he got to start off with a runner on first base.
Nevertheless, Romo pitched a 1-2-3 inning using eleven pitches, prompting Duane Kuiper to comment that it was the best he’d seen Romo looking “in a while.”
For the Mets it was Curtis Granderson hammering two home runs, one in the first and a solo shot in the sixth, bringing the Mets to within one run. Otherwise, Timmy kept it close and the bullpen nailed it down.
The Giants had eleven hits all together, with Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Crawford joining Blanco with two hits apiece. Crawford is second on the team in RBI’s with 32, to Morse’s 39.
The Giants were 23-13 when Brandon Belt went down with a thumb injury, or ten games above .500. They are 19-8 without him, or eleven games above .500. It speaks volumes that the Orange and Black have been able to pull together to make it work, until Belt gets back. A lot of times, modern players are less than willing to play out of position.
Though Angel Pagan and Buster Posey had the day off, the Giants still prevailed. The Giants are 18-6 in day games, and 8-1 on Sundays. They are 22-9 at home and 10-3 against the National League East. The sweep of the Mets was the first for the Giants at AT&T Park against the Mets, since August of ’02.
The victory was only the latest comeback win, by a team with baseball’s best record. They are a set of players who are working together with a common goal in mind, all “pulling on the same string” as Tim Lincecum said in his postgame interview.
Right now that string is looking more like cable and cable don’t snap.