Friday, April 11, 2014

Game of the Day (4/10/14)

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 5 (10). Randall Delgado for Arizona against Ryan Vogelsong for San Fran.
Vogelsong allowed a leadoff hit to Tony Campana in the first, but retired the next two Arizona hitters and then saw Campana caught stealing. Delgado was perfect in the bottom of the inning, which allowed his teammates to produce the game's first runs in the second. Miguel Montero was hit by a pitch, Mark Trumbo walked, Gerardo Parra singled to load the bases, and Cliff Pennington singled to knock in the two lead runners. Delgado grounded to first, which resulted in Parra getting thrown out at home, and Campana struck out to end the inning (making this the second consecutive inning to be ended by Campana making an out).

San Francisco drew closer in the bottom of the second, as Hunter Pence doubled with one out, Brandon Crawford worked a two-out walk, and Brandon Hicks singled Pence home. But the top of the third saw a Paul Goldschmidt double, a Martin Prado single, and a Montero double that scored the two preceding runners, making it a 4-1 game. Montero would make it to third when Trumbo reached on an error, but was stranded by Parra and Pennington.

The Giants chipped away again in the bottom of the third, starting with a single by Angel Pagan and a walk to Brandon Belt. (Not only did the Giants start three hitters named Brandon, they were all playing infield positions. I fear Pablo Sandoval's first name may cave in to peer pressure and spontaneously change itself to Brandon at some point during the season.) Sandoval hit into a double play, but Buster Posey dropped down a two-out bunt single to bring Pagan home. (Montero's throw to first on the play took Goldschmidt into the baseline trying to field it, leading to an inadvertent near-clothesline of Posey as he crossed the base. Both players remained in the game.) Vogelsong kept the bases clear of Diamondbacks in the fourth, and his teammates added another run on back-to-back doubles by Michael Morse and Crawford, pulling within 4-3. A walk to Hicks and a failed sacrifice by Vogelsong (Crawford was forced at third) brought Delgado's day to a close; Oliver Perez relieved and got a double play ball out of Pagan to preserve the slight lead.

Vogelsong plunked Prado in the fifth, but Montero hit into a double play to remove the runner. In the bottom of the inning, Perez got Belt to foul out, but walked Sandoval; Will Harris then relieved and allowed a single to Posey before striking out Pence. With two outs and two on, Morse hit the ball about as far as you can hit it while staying in the park, bouncing it off the brick wall in right-center for a two-run double that gave San Francisco its first lead of the day.

The Giants removed Vogelsong after a leadoff double by Trumbo in the sixth, and David Huff and JC Gutierrez combined to keep the runner from scoring (although he did reach third with one out). Brad Ziegler was perfect in the bottom of the sixth, and Arizona threatened again in the seventh against Jean Machi. Campana led off with a single, and Aaron Hill doubled him to third. Goldschmidt was intentionally walked to load the bases with nobody out, and Prado made that decision pay off, grounding into a 1-2-3 double play. Javier Lopez then relieved to strike out Montero and finish defusing a potentially huge inning.

After a brief rally against Ziegler in the bottom of the seventh (Sandoval walked, Pence had an infield hit, and they were both stranded), Santiago Casilla entered for the top of the eighth. He retired Trumbo, but walked Parra and allowed a Pennington single. Pinch hitter Eric Chavez flied to left for the second out, bringing Campana to the plate. The swift-footed leadoff man chopped a grounder to third, and his speed forced Sandoval to rush the play; the Giant third baseman threw the ball up the right field line, allowing Parra to race around with the tying run.

With the game suddenly even, the Giant lineup mounted a serious scoring attempt in the bottom of the eighth. Crawford greeted Joe Thatcher with a double, and Hicks walked. Juan Perez sacrificed the runners over, and Pagan was intentionally walked to load the bases. Belt and Sandoval both flied out to leave them that way, keeping the tie intact. The ninth inning was much calmer, as Segio Romo and JJ Putz were both perfect except for Montero reaching on an error.

Yusmeiro Petit took the mound for San Francisco in the top of the tenth. Pennington singled with one out, and stole second an out later with Campana hitting. On the eighth pitch of his at bat, Campana dumped a blooper just over Hicks's glove and into right field, and Pennington sprinted home with the go-ahead run. Addison Reed retired the home team in order to secure the save.

This was quite a day for Tony Campana, starting with it being the first four-hit game of his career. He was also largely responsible for the scoring of both the tying and go-ahead runs (he didn't get an RBI on the tying run, but if a slower player hits the same grounder, Sandoval isn't firing the ball into the bullpen). That adds up to a remarkable WPA of +.737, for a player who had never exceeded +.200 before in his career.

Throw Campana's career day in with the combined 34 at bats with runners in scoring position, particularly both teams loading the bases while either tied or down 1 and failing to score, not to mention the two-out game-tying and game-winning hits, and you have a deserving selection for not only the best game of the day, but the third-best game of 2014 so far.

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