The San Francisco Giants employed a winning formula against Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday night, by working the count, taking advantage of a costly error by Carl Crawford, and capitalizing on timely hitting to fashion an 8-4 win at Camelback Stadium. Chris Heston started for the Giants and went six strong innings, after overcoming some adversity in the first inning and escaping by inducing a ground-ball double play off the bat of former Giant Juan Uribe.
Not only did Heston (spring ERA of 2.40) establish solid credentials on the mound, he electrified the Giants’ dugout with a booming fourth-inning double off the left field wall, which scored Gregor Blanco with tie-breaking run, making the score 4-3 and propelling Heston to the spring training win. The double followed a two-out clutch triple off the bat of Blanco, which had plated Travis Ishikawa with the tying run.
Coming off of the vaunted Greinke, who this season features a new look with his golden locks flowing out behind him in direct contrast to his formerly conservative appearance.
The Giants found a way to score eight runs with only one solo home run. Get used to it.
The look is as distinctly SoCal, asTim Lincecum
’s was of the northern variety all the way. It was particularly gratifying for Giants fans to see the Grenike pulled from the game before he had gotten out of the top of the fourth inning, his allotment of 78 pitches having been deemed adequate for the night.
Playing National League ball, the Giants were patient at the plate, with Andrew Susac drawing a second-inning walk so that he scored on the error by Crawford. Described by one writer as routine, I did not see it that way. Ehire Adrianza hit a high fly ball down the left field line that Crawford had to race to get to, and it was obvious that he was struggling with the lights. The ball hit high in the pocket of his glove and bounced right out, making it clear that the ball was catchable, but to describe the play as routine does an injustice to both Adrianza and Crawford.
Heston was the final batter the Dodgers number two starter would face Friday night. Not to make too much of a desert hot smash by an obviously well-versed triple-A pitcher, but it just indicated that the Giants are well aware that they will need to take advantage of every weapon they have this season, and that includes expecting their pitching staff to contribute at the plate.
Javier Lopez (4.76 ERA) pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, getting two ground balls and a fly ball out, while George Kontos duplicated the efficiency in the eighth, by retiring the side in order on a strikeout, a ground ball and a foul pop up to third baseman Adam Duvall. Jean Machi worked the ninth, allowing an opening single to Justin Turner, and then retiring the side on two grounders to first base and a swinging strikeout. Turner scored from third on the second of the two infield outs off the bat of Enrique Hernandez.
May 18, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco Giants pitcher George Kontos (70) delivers a pitch during the seventh inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
Kontos (3.0 ERA) is making a serious bid to claim the last spot on the roster, not only because he has been lights out his last six appearances, but because he is out of minor league options. Kontos is unquestionably good enough to be a solid member of any number of major league staffs; the only question is if it will be as a member of the Giants.
Another Giant who is peaking at the right time is Gregor Blanco, who had two more hits Friday night, raising his spring average to .302. He is a player who will figure prominently in manager Bruce Bochy’s plans this season, because he is versatile enough to play all three outfield positions. Andrew Susac contributed a solo home run to the effort in the sixth inning, on a night he replaced Buster Posey in the lineup because it was Posey’s 28th birthday.
Matt Duffy added his second spring triple in the ninth, driving in a pair of insurance runs, and his line is approaching phenom status, reading like this, .385/.415/.718/1.133. When compared to incumbent backup infielder, Joaquin Arias, .188/.235/.375/.610, one wonders if Arias should be worried.
The argument against Duffy over Arias is that Duffy has no experience at third base, and whereas he may be able to handle it, finding out at the major league level could be costly. The Giants could go ahead and take the chance that Casey McGehee stays injury-free, and keep Duffy, or they could call up Adam Duvall up in the event that there was a need.
Photo by Denise Walos 7/4/14
Arias has been the go-to guy for Bochy but the skipper has to be salivating at Duffy’s numbers. This is a kid who like Joe Panik, does not have the stats nor the flash of a high-profile pick, but continues to pound on the door of opportunity by clobbering the ball. The Giants do loyalty better than most, but when the pounding on that door gets too loud to be ignored, look for a change.
For the past couple of weeks, the tone of all Giants reports has been cautionary, as in don’t make too much out of what is going on down on the field. Therefore, one victory over nemesis Greinke and his fellow Dodgers, does not a resurrection make.
On the other hand, what the Giants saw from Chris Heston, especially when it came to his ability to produce ground balls, created visions of proverbial sugar plums, when talk of injuries to the rotation crops up. The kid looked poised up there and his double off of Greinke was a thing to behold.
A win/loss record of 7-19 is still nothing to write home about, but it’s one win better than it was a day ago and it came against a Dodgers team that trotted out almost its entire Opening Day lineup, A.J. Ellis being the only guy who may not start.
And, oh yeah. They beat Greinke.