Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Game of the Day (9/22/14)

Giants 5, Dodgers 2 (13). San Francisco's Jake Peavy faced LA's Dan Haren in a matchup of well-traveled right-handers. How well-traveled? Between them, they've pitched in all six of MLB's divisions, and have pitched for every NL West team except the Rockies.

Gregor Blanco led off the top of the first with a homer, putting the Giants in front immediately. Pablo Sandobal was hit by a pitch and stranded later in the inning, and Peavy plunked Yasiel Puig in the home half of the inning and left him on as well. Haren was perfect in the second, and Hanley Ramirez led off the bottom of the inning with a walk, but didn't advance past first. Blanco then padded San Francisco's lead in the third, touching three bases on a Matt Kemp error and coming home on a Joe Panik squeeze bunt.

Peavy was spotless in the bottom of the third. Brandon Belt reached on an Adrian Gonzalez error in the top of the fourth, and nobody else from either team joined him on base. Haren then threw a 1-2-3 fifth, and the Dodgers rallied in the bottom of the inning. Carl Crawford led off with a homer, and Juan Uribe followed with a double. AJ Ellis singled Uribe to third, Haren bunted Ellis to second, and Dee Gordon's sac fly brought home the tying run.

Ramirez's single made him the only player to reach in either half of the sixth, and an error (by Gordon) and HBP (of Ellis) were responsible for the only two seventh-inning baserunners. The bullpens took over in the eighth; JP Howell was pulled after allowing a two-out Panik single, and Brian Wilson walked Buster Posey before stranding both runners. Sergio Romo worked a routine bottom of the inning. Kenley Jansen walked Hunter Pence and allowed a Brandon Crawford single in the top of the ninth, but pinch hitter Travis Ishikawa struck out to leave both runners on, and Jean Machi was spotless in the bottom half to send the game to extras.

The Giants kept the pressure on in the top of the tenth, as Panik and Posey both singled (against Scott Elbert and Brandon League, respectively) before Sandoval's double play grounder ended the inning. Machi worked another 1-2-3 inning in the home tenth, and League allowed one-out singles to Belt, Juan Perez, and Brandon Crawford in the top of the eleventh; Belt was thrown out trying to score on Crawford's single, and Joaquin Arias struck out to leave the other two runners on. A Crawford error in the bottom of the inning came to naught, as Santiago Casilla induced a Kemp double play to end the momentary threat.

Panik singled against Daniel Coulombe in the twelfth and was stranded; Darwin Barney was hit by a pitch in the bottom of the inning and erased on a Uribe double play. Kevin Correia then took the mound in the thirteenth and allowed a one-out Belt single. Perez grounded out, moving Belt to second, Crawford was intentionally walked, and pinch hitter Andrew Susac singled Belt home with the go-ahead run. Blanco followed that up with a double that brought in two runs, though he was thrown out in a rundown on the play. Hunter Strickland proceeded to throw an immaculate bottom of the inning to end the game and secure his first major league save.

You know, when the game is tied after seven, and your bullpen then takes over and has four guys combine to allow no hits and face the minimum for every remaining inning... that's a game you're probably going to win. That's what the Giants did here, courtesy of Sergio Romo, Jean Machi, Santiago Casilla, and Hunter Strickland, and it allowed them to leave the go-ahead run in scoring position in the eighth, ninth, tenth, and eleventh innings (with a runner getting thrown out at home in one of them) before finally bringing it home in the thirteenth.

That run, in turn, kept San Francisco's faint division title hopes alive. They're now 3.5 back with 6 to play (5 left for the Dodgers), so there's still a lot to be done - but it's doable.

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