Andrew Susac hit a pinch-hit, thirteenth inning single to knock in the go-ahead run as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers, 5-2, Monday night, in the opener of a three-game series in Los Angeles. The win diminished the difference between the first-place Dodgers and the Giants to three-and-a-half games.
The Giants out-hit the Dodgers 12-4, despite only getting one hit through the first seven innings, the one hit being a lead-off home run to give the Giants an early lead in this important showdown between the National League West’s two top teams.
San Francisco put one runner on in the ninth and twelfth, two runners on in the eighth and tenth, three on in the eleventh and finally, four on in the deciding thirteenth inning, when they ended up scoring three runs and taking a 5-2 lead.
Gregor Blanco added to Susac’s thunder in the thirteenth, by doubling in another run, but missed the stop sign from Tim Flannery and overshot second base. The net result was that Blanco made the third out on the bases, but not before Susac alertly scored from third base when the Dodgers chose to go after the errant Blanco.
Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco homered and drove in two more in the thirteenth to help defeat LA, 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
By contrast, the Dodgers were limited to the minimum eighteen batters over the last six innings by Giants’ pitching, with no hits being allowed and two double plays helping to get out of mini-jams.
Jake Peavy started for the Giants and pitched seven complete innings, giving up two runs on four hits, with one walk, while striking out four. Having come into the game with a 14-3 mark against L.A, it was exactly what we expected. What we might not have expected is the the bullpen would steal the Dodgers’ thunder from the eighth inning on.
Sergio Romo took over in the eighth and and got Yasiel Puig on a three-pitch strikeout, and Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp on fly balls to Hunter Pence. Jean Machi, making up for his rough outing on Sunday afternoon, pitched the ninth, also recording a 1-2-3 inning with one strike out and two fly balls.
Machi went on to pitch a 1-2-3 tenth, as Giants relief pitching retired nine consecutive batters before Santiago Casilla came on in the eleventh inning. Puig led off by grounding a ball to Brandon Crawford at short, who threw low and wide to Belt at first and the Dodgers had their leadoff man on board. But after Gonzalez lined out to Perez in left field, Kemp hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, making it a six-pitch inning for Casilla.
Casilla continued on into the twelfth, but got things started by hitting pinch-hitter Darwin Barney with a 3-2 fastball. Carl Crawford followed by striking out and Juan Uribe hit into an inning-ending double play.
Hunter Strickland came on in the thirteenth to record his first major league save, in another impressive outing by the kid who is making a bid for a close look from the Giants next spring in the desert.
Dan Haren started for Los Angeles and went seven innings, with the unusual line of two runs given up on just one hit. He did not walk a batter and struck out seven. Shoddy defense behind him accounted for the second Giants run when Matt Kemp and Yasiel Puig had a communication problem on a long fly ball by Gregor Blanco, leading off the third inning, with Kemp having the ball bounce out of his glove for a three-base error.
The ball was placed perfectly between the two outfielders and they came charging towards each other with Puig ducking down at the last second and Kemp making the awkward attempt to put the ball away. Joe Panik successfully put down a safety squeeze, scoring Blanco with what would turn out to be a crucial run. Buster Posey struck out to end the inning.
J.P. Howell and Brian Wilson combined to pitch the eighth and Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth. Jansen walked the leadoff man, Hunter Pence, and allowed a two-out single to Brandon Crawford, before Travis Ishikawa ended the inning by striking out swinging.
Scott Elbert started the tenth for the Dodgers and got Blanco on an infield groundout, before Joe Panik singled to the infield, with the official scorekeeper giving Dee Gordon a generous call to avoid being charged with an error. After Brandon League replaced Elbert, Posey singled to right, putting two on the bases, but Pablo Sandoval hit into an inning-ending double play, Ramirez to Gordon to Gonzalez.
Brandon League also pitched the eleventh, allowing three consecutive singles, the third one by Brandon Crawford with Belt on second base and Juan Perez on first. The ball was hit hard to Puig, who fielded it and threw a bullet on the fly to A.J. Ellis, who put the tag on the sliding Belt. Joaquin Arias struck out swinging to end the eleventh.
Sep 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Andrew Susac (34) celebrates with third base coach Tim Flannery (1) after hitting a two run home run in the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Daniel Coulombe pitched the twelfth, giving up a one-out single to Joe Panik, but getting two fly balls to right field to end the inning. It was ex-Giant Kevin Correia who finally allowed the barrage of Giants’ hits to pierce the Dodgers’ armor in the thirteenth inning. He ended up giving up three runs on four hits.
San Francisco came into the game having lost five of seven, but they played one of their best games in weeks when they really had to. With Zack Greinke going tomorrow against Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw scheduled to pitch on Wednesday, the Giants faced a must-win game and did so.
They are not likely to pass the Dodgers in the standings over this final week, but they can reestablish the momentum they need to get past the one-game wild-card playoff and on to the National League Division Series, where I think they will be on more solid ground.
There is a lot riding on Bumgarner’s shoulders but I think he’s the right guy for the job.