The last time the Giants had 4 as a number to note, it symbolized how close they were to being eliminated from post-season play.
However, tonight, in front of 37,449 people at AT&T Park, number 4 is their magic number. That's right. The number goes down whenever the Padres lose or the Giants win from here on out. If that number gets to 0, the Giants will make it to the play-offs as NL West champions for the first time since 2003.
It did not start well Tuesday night for the home town 9. Jonathan Sanchez started the second inning for the Giants but was shaky. Adam LaRoche lead off the inning for the Diamondbacks with a single. The next batter, Tony Abreu, struck out. Then trouble came, as Sanchez looked eratic. Up next was Miguel Montero who walked. With LaRoche at second and Montero at first, Sanchez threw a wild pitch, advancing each runner 90 feet. This prompted Bochy to walk the 8th place hitter, Cole Gillespie, loading the bases for the pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, who had not had an RBI all season. That would change when Lopez lifted a sacrifice fly to right-center field, giving the Diamondbacks a 1-0 lead. Stephen Drew, the next batter, would strike out looking to end the inning.
The Diamondbacks would add on to their lead in the top of the third inning on a solo home-run by Kelley Johnson. The score was then 2-0 Diamondbacks.
Then came the Giants. The Giants got on the board in the bottom of the third inning. Andres Torres led off the inning with a triple that glanced off the glove of Cole Gillespie, as he leaped in front of the right field brick wall to try and catch it. The next batter, Mike Fontenot, singled to center, making it 2-1 Diamondbacks.
In the next inning, Juan Uribe tied up the game at 2 on a long home run to left. It appeared that the Giants would take the lead when Sandoval was on third with 1 out, but Adam LaRoche made an incredible diving play on an Andres Torres screamer down the line.
In the 6th inning, the Giants got a 2-out rally started. Pablo Sandoval doubled to deep right off the brick wall. Jonathan Sanchez was due up next, but was lifted for pinch hitter Nate Schierholtz. As he did in game 1 of the last series the Giants and Diamondbacks played in Arizona, Schierholtz got an RBI hit that gave the Giants the lead.
The Giants added an insurance run in the bottom of the 7th inning. With Fontenot on second and 2 out, Pat Burrell came through with a single to center, extending the Giants' lead to 4-2.
Things got interesting in the top of the eighth inning. With runners at first and third with 1 out, Brian Wilson was summoned in for a 5 out save. He struck out Chris Young swinging on a slider in the dirt. Young appeared to check his swing, but the first-base umpire called him out. The next batter, Adam LaRoche, hit a high fly ball to deep center, but Torres tracked it down. The Giants went into the ninth with a 4-2 lead. They would not give it up, as Wilson earned his 46th save.
On the pitching front, Jonathan Sanchez got the job done. In his 6 inning effort, Sanchez yielded 2 runs, 3 hits, and 4 walks, while striking out 6. This was good enough for his 12th win. The losing pitcher, Rodrigo Lopez, pitched 5 2/3 innings and gave up 3 runs. He fell to 7-15.
With the Padres losing 5-2 to the Cubs, the Giants are now 2 games ahead of them in the National League West, with 5 games to play. The last time the Giants were in this position this late into the season, Buster Posey was attending high school and Madison Bumgarner was just finishing middle school.
Pressed for time, but I got one quick thought. It is simply amazing how many heroes this team has every single game. In the past, it seemed to always be one guy, and that was #25. This year, it's been literally up and down the line-up. Tonight, it was Sanchez, Wilson, Schierholtz, Torres, Fontenot, Burrell, Soriano (Yes, Alfonso Soriano in Chicago!), and UUUUUUUUribe. Sunday, in Colorado, it was Cain, Burrell, Sanchez, and Ross. A true team effort is what it takes to win in September.
One more point. For all you Sabean and Bochy haters, how do those two look now? They constructed a potential juggernaut, so they deserve credit for the Giants being in 1st place right now.
This and That
The Giants have 36 comeback wins this year. Freddy Sanchez received a cortisone shot today on his right shoulder and may be back in the lineup tomorrow. Sanchez and Lincecum have each had 200 strikeouts this year. Brian Wilson is two saves shy from Rod Beck's single-season Giants' record of 48 set in 1993. Tomorrow, the Giants send out Tim Lincecum (15-10, 3.51 ERA) against Ian Kennedy (9-9, 3.76 ERA).