Buster Posey hit his 22nd home run of the season in the first inning, and the San Francisco Giants went on to defeat the San Diego Padres, 9-3, Sunday afternoon at AT&T Park, bringing to a close the 2014 regular season, as the Giants prepare to face the Pirates Wednesday evening in Pittsburgh, beginning at 5:07 Pacific time.
The Padres scored two in the first, the Giants came right back with two in the bottom of the first, and then scored two more in the second on a Gregor Blanco sacrifice fly and a Joe Panic single. The Padres scored their final run in the third and the rest of the game went to the Giants who scored one in the fourth and four more in the seventh to give the fans a real treat.
Chris Heston started for San Francisco and almost did not get out of the first inning. Will Venable led off the game by hitting a bullet off Brandon Belt’s glove, that Belt managed to recover but hung onto because he could never have gotten Venable at first. After Heston wild-pitched Max and Molly’s kid to second base, Cory Spangenberg singled to center field, scoring him.
Jedd Gyorko followed with a single to left and Yasmani Grandal then hit a line drive single to Hunter Pence in right field, that got out to Pence so quickly, that Gyorko was held at third, loading the bases, still with no one out. Seth Smith then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Spangenberg with the second run of the inning.
Rene Rivera, who has hurt the Giants so much this season, then took a called third strike, and Alexi Amarista hit into a fielder’s choice to end the inning. Brandon Crawford made one of his patented horizontal grabs of Amarista’s hard-hit bounding grounder up the middle and flipped it to Joe Panik covering the bag at second.
Joe Panik had two hits in today’s game against the Padres. Photo Credit: Kevin Pataky/Milb.com
The Giants answered right back in the bottom of the first when Gregor Blanco led off with a single, and after Joe Panik grounded out to second, Buster Posey blasted one over the wall for a two-run homer, tying the game.
After Chris Heston retired the Padres in order in the top of the second, the Giants went back to work, loading the bases with no outs on two walks and a Brandon Crawford single. Blanco then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Brandon Belt, and Panik singled in another run to make the score, 4-2. Tim Stauffer replaced Robbie Erlin on the mound, and got Posey swinging to end the inning.
Adam Duvall hit a fourth-inning pinch-hit homer off of Stauffer to increase the lead to 5-3, but the Giants weren’t finished yet, going to work in the seventh when Blanco led off with a base-on-balls, off of the newly installed Alex Torres. After Joe Panik was called out at first on a swinging bunt, Torres to Grandal, Bruce Bochy asked for a Instant Replay review because television replays indicated that Grandal’s foot never made contact with the first base bag because he was stretching to get the throw. Umpires in New York agreed with Bochy and awarded first base to Panik, putting two runners on with no one out.
Nick Vincent replaced Torres on the mound and after Andrew Susac, in for Posey, struck out, Gary Brown singled in Blanco, and Joaquin Arias doubled in both Panik and Brown, making the score 8-3. Matt Duffy, batting in the pitcher’s spot, singled in Arias for the ninth run of the game, bringing in the third pitcher of the inning, Leonel Campos, who got Crawford on a popup and Ishikawa swinging, to end the inning. Campos closed out the game for the Padres, pitching the eighth with only a single by Juan Perez to mar his performance.
Jul 20, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Lincecum (55) threw two innings of effective relief in Sunday’s game. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Chris Heston ended up pitching four innings, giving up three earned runs on six hits with two walks and two K’s. Tim Lincecum came in to pitch the fifth and sixth innings, continuing his string of effective relief appearances by retiring six of the seven batters he faced on 21 pitches. Bochy has been using Timmy in different relief situations, hoping to be able to utilize Lincecum in the playoffs the way he did in 2012.
George Kontos pitched a perfect seventh as did Erik Cordier the eighth, and manager Bochy brought in son, Brett Bochy, to mop up in the ninth, which he did by striking out two and ending the game on a line drive out to center field, a fitting conclusion to the 2014 season.
For the Giants, who had thirteen hits in all, only Joe Panik had two. Posey and Duvall had homers, Susac and Arias had doubles and there were seven other singles in a balanced offensive attack that produced nine runs.
The game featured a nice blend of veterans and rookies, both in the starting lineup and in the pitching corps. San Francisco relievers had another stellar day, allowing only one base runner over the final five innings of the game.
So the long haul is over and the playoffs begin this Wednesday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh. The Giants have been road warriors all season and they have their ace, Madison Bumgarner on the mound. The journey will not be easy and will not be probable, but it will be possible.
We saw a band of castoffs and misfits go all the way in 2010. We saw a team not much different than this season’s come back from seemingly insurmountable pits in the NLDS and NLSC in 2012, to go all the way.
So do not count this year’s team out of the chase, just because the path ahead is difficult. This club thrives on the improbable and does not back down from difficult, and it will get the chance to prove it starting on Wednesday. Stay tuned.
Jul 18, 2014; Miami, FL, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner (40) throws during the first inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports