Down 8-4 entering the top of the ninth inning, the San Francisco Giants, behind a rally of non-regulars, erupted for five runs and hung on to win 9-8, over the Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium Saturday afternoon. The late-game fireworks bailed Jake Peavy out from a less-than-stellar outing, with only one start remaining to get his act together.
Peavy worked only three-and-a-third innings, allowing seven hits, and six runs (five of them earned), while walking one and striking one batter out. Justin Maxwell hit a three-run blast in the top of the fourth to temporarily put the Giants ahead by one, 4-3, but Peavy got hit hard in the bottom of the fourth and the lead vanished as quickly as it had been attained. Only two Giants regulars, Buster Posey and Casey McGehee, were in the starting lineup.
A total of seven Giants pitchers then combined to get the last seventeen batters, with only Jeremy Affeldt permitting more damage when he allowed a solo home run, a walk and a double, which produced the Mariners’ final two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Clay Rapada (.2 IP/0.00 spring ERA), Juan Gutierrez (1 IP/0.00 ERA), Affeldt (.2 IP/6.97 ERA), Brett Bochy (.1 IP/1.42 ERA), Sergio Romo (1 IP/1.59 ERA), Santiago Casilla (1 IP/7.20 ERA/ W, 1-0) and Hunter Strickland (1 IP/6.10 ERA/ S,1) each worked to keep this game within reach so that the stage was set for an eventful finish.
Sep 13, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Brett Bochy (43) son of Giants manager Bruce Bochy made his MLB appearance against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports
Justin Maxwell, he of the three-run homer earlier in the game, led off the ninth inning by legging out a soft grounder to the left side, fielded by Carlos Rivera, who threw too late to get the hustling former Houston Astro. Andrew Susac, continuing to show no ill effects from his sore wrist, then followed with a single to center, Maxwell stopping at second.
Of the Giants’ eleven hits, four were for extra bases: a double, two triples and a home run.
After Darrin Ford was called out on strikes,Kelby Tomlinson
tripled to center field, plating both Susac and Ciriaco. The Mariners could still have escaped with a tie, butMark Lowe
, after first striking outJackson Williams
, then threw a wild pitch with Brandon Bednar at the plate, and Tomlinson alertly streaked home.
Immediately afterward, Bednar struck out, but the five runs scored were enough to assume a 9-8 lead, which Hunter Strickland came in to preserve. Though none of the Giants who participated in the rally are regulars, the win still represents a continuation of the kind of situational ball that manager Bruce Bochy had said needed to improve.
The victory raised the preseason mark to 10-19, but more importantly indicated that the team is getting closer to being ready to come out the gate with some momentum. The Giants start out the season with 23 consecutive games against the National League West, seven of the first ten against the Diamondbacks and Rockies.
The need for the team to start quickly was never as important as it is this season, with both the Dodgers and the Padres likely to apply pressure from Day 1 through Day 162. Last year the 43-21 record San Francisco forged the first two months of the season was the edge they needed to make it into the playoffs, and the rest is history.
This season they will not have that power crush which propelled the team early on in 2014, before the bottom fell out and they went into their two-month free-fall. San Francisco will have to establish its game plan from the beginning, hustling on the basepaths, appropriating ninety feet whenever the opposition is sleep at the switch, and doing the unexpected.
Every game will make a difference when it comes to September because it is unlikely that more than one team will advance to the playoffs from the NL west, unless the level of play is so high that the Wild West rises above the rest of the league and snags a wild card slot as well. It would not be that unreasonable. The Giants have got to acquire the ability to score early and score often, even if only one run at a time.
Sep 25, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence (8) runs to home plate on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Matt Duffy (50, not pictured) during the seventh inning of the game against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
Small ball? If that’s the term you like, fine. Just remember, teams that rely on the home run for survival have to wait for the big bats to come up to the plate. Teams that play National League ball expect that every player, from the leadoff guy down to and including the pitcher, is involved in the offense every time he steps to the plate.
That creates a strong sense of unity which includes the concept that no one guy has to do it all by himself. Therefore, players take more uniform and even swings, not the all-out, popup-producing wave that sends the team back out on the field with the bases still loaded. Putting the ball in play with the opponents knowing that the Giants are going to be aggressive, applies pressure.
Championship teams respond well to pressure and the Giants are the champions currently taking the field, regardless of whether they are playing NL teams or those of the Junior Circuit. Ergo, the Orange and Black are capable of responding to the pressure of needing to increase their offense and will do so.
Both the Dodgers and the Padres will hit more home runs, but that does not guarantee that they will score more runs. Think of it as David and Goliath, if you please, but don’t lose track of one important detail: David already has slain Goliath three time in five seasons.
He’s getting pretty good with that sling.