Quick post tonight. Got a BBQ with the family.
The Giants, who were held scoreless for 10 of 11 innings tonight, escaped tonight's extra inning affair with a 2-0 thriller thanks to a key 2-out triple by Nate Schierholtz. The winning rally began with 2 outs in the 11th when Aubrey Huff singled off losing pitcher Aaron Heilman (5-7). Next batter Buster Posey, who was robbed of tonight's heroics in the ninth by Gerardo Parra, looped a single to right-center, advancing Huff to third. This set up Schierholtz's booming triple that kept the momentum on the Giants' side as they climbed to within a half game of the San Diego Padres and could be tied for the NL West lead pending on tonight's Dodgers vs. Padres matchup.
Just as last night, the Giants engaged in a pitcher's duel. The Giants' rookie lefty Madison Bumgarner pitched 7.1 strong innings, gave up 5 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, while striking out 7. Bumgarner's counter-part, Ian Kennedy, matched the Giants' lefty pitch for pitch going 8 innings, on 2 hits, no runs, 2 walks, and 6 strikeouts. Kennedy hit for himself in the bottom of the eighth, hitting a double over the head of the drawn-in Schierholtz, but for some reason did not come back to pitch the ninth. The Giants bullpen was fantastic as well, pitching 3 2/3 innings of hitless baseball, while striking out 7. Santiago Casilla pitched a scoreless 10th inning (struck out the side) and picked up the win (6-2). Aaron Heilmen took the loss (5-7). Brian Wilson came on in the 11th and recorded his 41st save of the year, including a strikeout to Miguel Montero on an inside 97 mph fastball to end the game.
A key moment came in the bottom of the eighth. I thought Bochy really used his bullpen well here and put out the best matchups as possible. After Kennedy doubled to right off Bumgarner, he was advanced to third on a Stephen Drew sac fly to center. Sergio Romo was brought in and faced Ryan Church, who walked (it was more like a pitch around. Not a bad idea with a runner at third and a righty/lefty matchup). Javier Lopez then came on and struck out Kelley Johnson on a nasty sweeping slider. Ramon Ramirez was then brought on to face Chris Young, and he induced a week ground ball to the shortstop Renteria. Knowing Lopez was tough on Lefties, what a great decision by Bochy here. His motion is not easy to pick up by lefties and it showed. Righties, however, that's a different story. Righties hit well against Lopez, and knowing this, Bochy did the right thing by having the serviceable Ramon Ramirez face Chris Young. I don't know about offense, but Bochy, going back to his San Diego days, sure knows how to handle a pitching staff.
A concern of mine is Andres Torres. Today he just looked overmatched by Ian Kennedy. He did go 1 for 5, but struck out twice. Torres has struck out 4 times in his last 2 games, going 1 for 9. If they are going to score consistently or get to the post-season, they need their igniter to get on base. It is no coincidence that the Giants offense has struggled at the same time Torres has struggled (Giants have only scored 12 runs in their last 4 games).
The Giants improved to 11-7 in extra inning games. They also have not allowed a run in 25 straight innings (the last runs they allowed were the 4 run inning runs to the Dodgers in the 4th inning of Saturday's game). Juan Uribe, Giants shortstop, was out of today's game after fouling a ball off his left shin last night, but hopes to return tomorrow. Arizona Right Fielder Justin Upton (not his brother BJ like ESPN.com had it), was out for his fifth straight game with a strained left shoulder. The Giants have now won 5 straight road games, improving their overall road record to 35-34. Last year the Giants were 36-45 on the road, so they are one game shy of matching last year's total amount of road wins here on September 6th. Tomorrow, the Snakes' Barry Enright (6-2) faces Giants' ace Tim Lincecum (12-9), who hopes to continue his good pitching from his last start vs. the Rockies.
Phillies just won the second game of the double-header 7-4, so the Giants are now just 1.5 out in the Wild Card. The Padres, who lead the Giants by just a half-game as of now, are just getting starting down in San Diego against the Dodgers. A Padres loss means the Giants tie the Padres. I hate to say it, but Go Dodgers!