Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Game of the Day (7/22/14)

Giants 9, Phillies 6 (14). The Giants started Yusmeiro Petit (who I just realized has a delightful name-and-team combo that should definitely result in his being awarded the nickname "the Little Giant"); the Phillies sent Roberto Hernandez, who has started enough of these games over the past couple of years to long since exhaust my supply of Fausto Carmona jokes.

Hernandez gave up a run in the first inning when Hunter Pence singled, moved to second on a groundout, and was doubled home by Pablo Sandoval. The Phils responded in the bottom of the inning; Ben Revere led off with a single, stole second, saw Jimmy Rollins walk behind him, and came home on Chase Utley's base hit. One out later, Rollins tallied the go-ahead run on a Marlon Byrd groundout. San Francisco tied the score at 2 when Gregor Blanco led off the second with a walk, moved to third on a steal-and-error, and scored on a Brandon Crawford groundout.

The scoring died off at that point. Petit was spotless in the bottom of the second. Hernandez allowed a two-out Buster Posey double in the third, but nothing else; Petit gave up a single and steal to Revere, then walked Ryan Howard with two out in the bottom of the third before stranding both men. Blanco doubled in the top of the fourth and made it to third before Petit grounded out to leave him there; the Giant hurler atoned for his failure at the plate with a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.

Pence led off the fifth with a go-ahead homer, but the Phils responded in the bottom of the inning. Revere singled and Rollins homered to put them back in front, and a Howard single and a Byrd double padded their lead to 5-3. Hernandez was replaced by Antonio Bastardo (though not in the same way that Fausto Carmona was once replaced by Roberto Hernandez - hey, I still had one left) after walking Crawford with two out in the sixth; Bastardo allowed a Hector Sanchez single, then retired pinch hitter Joaquin Arias to leave both runners on.

JC Gutierrez relieved the Little Giant in the bottom of the sixth and allowed only a Domonic Brown single. In the top of the seventh, Ehire Adrianza doubled off of Ken Giles with one out, and Posey singled; an Utley error allowed Adrianza to come home and cut the deficit in half; Sandoval singled as well to put the tying run in scoring position, but Giles then struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Gutierrez walked Rollins to open the bottom of the seventh, but Javier Lopez retired both Utley and Howard, and after an intentional walk to Byrd, Jean Machi relieved and got pinch hitter Darin Ruf to ground out.

Jake Diekman allowed a Crawford single to start the eighth, but nothing else, while Sergio Romo was spotless in the bottom of the inning. Jonathan Papelbon was given the save chance in the ninth; it went less well than might have been hoped, as Posey belted a one-out homer to tie the game. The Phils had a chance to win it against Jeremy Affeldt when Rollins reached on a Crawford error and Utley singled him to third with one out, but Howard struck out and Byrd grounded out to send the game to double-digit innings.

Papelbon and Affeldt were both spotless in the tenth. Justin De Fratus worked around an Adrianza single in the eleventh, and gave up nothing at all in the twelfth; meanwhile, Santiago Casilla took over after Affeldt walked Brown and kept the Phils from scoring in the eleventh, and George Kontos circumnavigated walks to Reid Brignac and Cody Asche in the twelfth. Jeff Manship and Kontos both kept the bases sterile in the thirteenth.

With one out in the top of the fourteenth, Posey doubled off of Manship. Sandoval was intentionally walked, and Kontos bunted the runners to second and third. Blanco then walked as well, loading the bases - and Crawford promptly unloaded them with a three-run double. Sanchez followed with a lead-padding RBI single, and Tyler Colvin and Pence singled as well to reload the bases before Manship retired Adrianza (for the second time in the inning) to end the rally. Kontos allowed a Howard single and a Wil Nieves double in the bottom of the fourteenth; Tim Lincecum relieved him and gave up an RBI groundout to Asche, but nothing further, thereby securing his first career save.

Fun as the pitchers were in this one, the hitters were the bigger story. The Phillies got their early lead on the back of their geriatric double-play combo, as Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley combined on a healthy +.484 WPA from the second and third slots in the order. But the Giants came back, mostly thanks to 2012 NL MVP Buster Posey, whose four hits included two doubles and a perfectly-timed homer, and led to two runs (the tying and go-ahead, in fact) and one RBI (plus another key run scoring on one of his hits thanks to an error). That adds up to a WPA of +.493, the third-highest score of his career and a better mark than any he posted during his MVP season.

All of the hitting, pitching, leads, comebacks, and extra innings combined to produce an excellent game overall, one that rates as the 10th-best of the season so far with a WPL of 6.71.

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