San Francisco Giants’ rookies take charge in series finale win


For the first time since early June, the San Francisco Giants won two games in a row at AT&T Park, shaking off a queasy start by Tim Lincecum, to flummox the Philadelphia Phllies by a final score of 5-2.  Scoring twice in the second inning to come back from one run down, the Giants broke a 2-2 tie in the fourth on an RBI-single by Andrew Susac, and scored twice more in the eighth, the first of the two runs coming off the bat of Joe Panik, doing his best to finally fill the gap at second base.

Once again the new kids on the block performed well in taking the series from the Phils and gaining another game on Los Angeles in the standings, for the second day in a row.  San Francisco is three-and-a-half back and only two back in the loss column.  Searching for that elusive element of momentum, the Giants seem to have picked up some from the rookies. 

Joe Panik, batting over .400 in his last twelve games, added two more singles and had a hit taken away by a fine play in the second inning by Ben Revere in center field.  Unfortunately, as he slid headfirst into second in the bottom of the eighth, he jammed his left pinkie against the bag as he went in hard.

February 20, 2013; Scottsdale, AZ, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac (67) had two singles and a walk in Sunday’s game. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Susac is adjusting nicely to the big leagues.  He had two solid base hits to left field and went from an 0-2 count to a walk to load the bases in the bottom of the eighth.  Brandon Crawford followed with a sacrifice fly, driving in Blanco with the first of two insurance runs.  Joaquin Arias knocked the second run in with another sacrifice fly, the third sac fly in the last two games.

Not until Buster Posey singled in the bottom of the seventh, did a Giant in the top four slots of the batting order get a hit, Hunter Pence having been the only guy to get on base, drawing a third-inning walk.

Gregor Blanco, three hits in two games, after not even entering either game until the sixth, led off the eighth inning with a double down the left field line that Grady Sizemore dived for and trapped beneath him, but could not hang on to for the out.  

This is the second game in a row that Gregor Blanco has been able to get a base hit off of Jake Diekman, the fireball-throwing reliever, who flattened Blanco the previous night, only to see him get back to his feet and knock in the go-ahead run on the next pitch.  

Michael Morse continued his torrid hitting, going three for three, extending his on-base streak to nine plate appearances.  He scored twice and left in the sixth, for pinch-runner Gregor Blanco, after singling for the third time, to lead off the inning.

San Francisco Giants first baseman Michael Morse (38) had three more singles in today’s game, giving him nine consecutive successful plate appearances. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Starter Tim Lincecum walked the proverbial tightrope the first four innings he pitched, throwing 88 pitches, while giving up seven hits and four walks and somehow confining the damage to only two earned runs.  He allowed four hits and two walks in the first two innings alone, throwing 50 pitches, but escaped serious damage, Chase Utley’s RBI-triple the only problem he could not dodge.

David Buchanan, the 24-year-old rookie making his thirteenth start for the Phils, threw just ten pitches in the first in getting three fly balls, to left, center and right field, in that order.  He went on to pitch into the seventh inning, giving up nine hits, one walk, while striking out four.

Ken Giles pitched to Pablo Sandoval to end the seventh and Jake Diekman came in to pitch the eventful eighth, surrendering the only extra-base hit of the day for the Giants, a double to Blanco.  He also gave up a single to Panik, a walk, and two sacrifice fly balls, one to Joaquin Arias and the other to Crawford.

For San Francisco, once Timmy left after five, Javier Lopez pitched one and two-thirds, Jean Machi, one-third, Sergio Romo the eighth and Santiago Casilla, the ninth, wracking up a 1-2-3 inning, including keeping Revere off the bases.   He ended the game by striking out both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley. 

Javier Lopez pitched one and two-thirds’ innings of relief in Sunday’s game.  Photo by Denise Walos.

For the Phillies Ben Revere, seven for his last nine at one point in the game, had three more singles, all to left field, two of the three to lead off an inning.  He added two defensive gems on the day, the one on Panik’s drive, and one robbing Pence of a seventh-inning screamer.

Cody Asche had a fine game, with three singles and a walk, the free pass coming with the bases loaded, forcing in the Phils’ second and final run of the game.  Jimmy Rollins struck out three times and Ryan Howard twice.  At one point in the late innings, Giants pitching struck out six straight Phillies, and nine of the last eleven Philadelphia batters in the game, for a dominant performance.

With Los Angeles losing again to the Milwaukee Brewers, and the Giants only three and a half games back, it’s time to start thinking of late season surges, and how much of a factor momentum can play in a season, especially a season in which momentum has already played such a huge role early on.

With the Giants traveling to Chicago to take on the Cubs, and the Dodgers facing a rejuvenated San Diego squad, there is incentive to try and gain more ground, before the going gets tougher.  That’s going to happen real quick-like here, so let’s leave it up to Ryan Vogelsong on Tuesday to keep things rolling along.  

Remember, the Giants still have six games left against the Dodgers.

Santiago Casilla resumed his role as closer, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth inning on Sunday.   Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports