Behind Tim Hudson, San Francisco Giants regain first place



Tim Hudson started and pitched into the eighth inning, giving up one run on seven hits, and the San Francisco Giants speared the Miami Marlins, 5-3, Saturday night, under the dome in Florida.  Pablo Sandoval had three hits in four at-bats, scoring twice and leading the rejuvenated Orange and Black offense to its third consecutive victory, the second since coming back from the long All-Star break.

Henderson Alvarez started for the Marlins and, after a rocky second inning in which he gave up two runs on two doubles, was hammered in his left shin by a Joe Panik drive that ricocheted off him and bounced away.  Functioning on adrenaline, Alvarez scrambled after the ball and made a blistering throw to first to get Panik, before realizing that he could barely stand up.  He left the field immediately and it was reported later that he suffered a left shin contusion.

The Giants scored twice in the second inning and three more times in the third, while the Marlins scored a single run in the first inning and twice more in the ninth.  The win gave the Giants their second consecutive series victory, the first having come against the Arizona Diamondbacks to close out the pre-All-Star game schedule. 

In the second inning, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt sandwiched a pair of doubles around a groundout by Michael Morse, to score Sandoval and leave Belt at second base.  Henderson Alvarez then threw a pitch that glanced off catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s glove for a passed ball, whereupon Belt, who had paused halfway to third continued on.

Pablo Sandoval went three for four and scored twice in Saturday’s game. Photo by Denise Walos.

Alarmingly, the ball ricocheted off the backstop directly back to Saltalamacchia on the line, and he fired off a strong throw trying to nail Belt at third.  And he would have thrown Belt out by several steps at least, except that he threw the ball into left field, almost beaning Belt in the process, the ball being so far to the shortstop side of the bag.  Belt got up and easily beat the throw home from Christian Yellich, scoring the second run of the game.  

The downside to the play was that Belt did not return to the field at the bottom of the second, being replaced by Tyler Colvin who took over in left, while Morse moved to first base.  Later it was reported that Belt was suffering from dizziness.

Demonstrating that hot is hot, Pablo Sandoval had three hits today, the first two off of the gloves of defenders.  Leading off the second inning, the Panda shot a scorcher down the third base line that Casey McGehee made a valiant effort to spear, but it was off his glove and down the line for a double.  Leading off the fourth, Pablo lined the ball into center field, where Marcell Ozuna made a diving attempt, but ended up losing the ball in his tumbling, rolling, extremely rough landing.

In the third inning, two singles, two walks, one of them intentional, and a hit batsman produced three runs, the biggest one being the two-out, bases-loaded walk drawn by Tim Hudson, allowing Hunter Pence to come to the plate and knock in two extremely important insurance runs.

Hunter Pence knocked in two critical insurance runs. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Dyson replaced the injured Alvarez for the Marlins, and though he escaped the third without damage, he gave up two runs in the fourth on a Hunter Pence, two-out single.  Altogether, Dyson went three-and-a-third innings, giving up two runs on four hits with four walks, one of them intentional, and a strike out.  Chris Hatcher, Dan Jennings and A. J. Ramos pitched the final three innings, respectively, facing only one batter over the minimum.

Tim Hudson was his old dominating self, allowing fans to temporarily forget those past several starts which have been less than scintillating.  His pitch count never exceeded fifteen pitches in any given inning, and he had a six-pitch, a seven-pitch, and two ten-pitch innings.  He induced three double play ground balls in the first three innings, certainly demoralizing the Marlins’ offense.

Jeremy Affeldt came in to pitch with one out in the eighth, and a runner on base, and got a line-drive out to shortstop and a pop foul caught by a marvelous, forward-thrusting dive by Buster Posey to close out the inning.  

Giancarlo Stanton hit his league-leading 23rd home run in the ninth inning, hammering Sergio Romo’s first pitch fastball out of the park in a very convincing fashion.  After Romo got the next two batters, he gave up a double to Marcell Ozuna, and Bruce Bochy never hesitated, going to Santiago Casilla to get the final out.  Casilla did so, but not before Jarrod Saltalamacchia knocked in the third run of the game with a single.  Casilla got the save.

The Giants knew going into the game that the Los Angeles Dodgers had already lost to St. Louis, 4-2, so to a certain extent, the pressure was on the Orange and Black.  Coming into tonight’s game, Tim Hudson was 14-4 lifetime against the Marlins, 10-1 in Miami itself, which may have seemed the game was a foregone conclusion.  The Giants did not play it that way, though, and the result was a solid victory and a full game gained on the Dodgers.

After the nine-and-a-half game bulge San Francisco enjoyed earlier in the season, one game may not seem like much, but that one game is good enough for the girls I go with.  For now.

Santiago Casilla came in to get the save. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports