17 June 2011
The Giants were here, and now was the chance for the D’Backs to strike. They entered the series a mere ½ game back, in position to assert themselves as serious contenders in the NL West. “The Freak” Tim Lincecum did not pitch, but that didn’t mean the D’Backs had an easy draw. Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong awaited. Through the first two games, the D’Backs showed why the Giants are in first place, but managed to regain respectability in the finale. Overall, a tremendously exciting series, and if this is any indication, these two teams will be in a dogfight until the end of September.
Tuesday- Game 1 vs. San Francisco: Three straight hits started this game against Josh Collmenter, the last of which being an RBI single by Pablo Sandoval. Collmenter settled down a little after that, not allowing a run until a Matt Cain squeeze play in the 4th. In the 5th, LCS hero Cody Ross hit a two run double and then stole home on a double steal play. Cain was able to hold the D’Backs at bay until the bottom half of the 5th, when Ryan Roberts was able to scrape across the first run against Cain. Miguel Montero’s moonshot of a three run home run put the D’Backs within one. Nate Schierholtz hit a double in the 7th to put the Giants up 6-4, then after the 7th inning stretch, Sean Burroughs and Justin Upton doubled to make it a one run game. In the bottom of the 9th, Brian Wilson and his ridiculous beard entered to close the game. Willie Bloomquist and Ryan Roberts made quick outs and it looked like Wilson would have a quick inning. Then things got interesting. Kelly Johnson drew a walk, as did Justin Upton. When pitching to Stephen Drew, Wilson threw one to the backstop, advancing Johnson and Upton to 3rd and 2nd, putting the tying and winning runs in scoring position. With two strikes on Drew, he watched a fastball go by that the umpire called strike three. Wilson the save, Giants win 6-5. 1 ½ games back.
W: Cain (6-4)
L: Collmenter (4-2)
S: Wilson (19)
POTG: Cody Ross. He knocked or scored over half of the Giants runs with his 2-4, 2R, 2RBI, line.
*To offer a quick commentary, the ballpark was electric tonight. I was at the game, and it seemed that with each passing inning, the D’Backs fans were getting louder. When Wilson entered, Arizona greeted him with a chorus of boos. Every strike call that was even close fired up the fans, as everyone was giving it to the umpire. When Montero homered, the place exploded. Even the players were animated; when Drew struck out, he blocked the home plate umpire that rung him up from leaving the stadium, and I could see him mouthing the words “that was a ball…YES it was.” A disappointing loss, but a great game in which to be in attendance.
Wednesday- Game 2 vs. San Francisco: For the second straight night, the Giants jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 1st inning. Tonight it was Joe Saunders, whose 1st inning struggles continued. Other than that, he pitched very well tonight. He went 7 innings, allowing only three earned runs, keeping his team in the ball game the whole time. Unfortunately, Giants starter Madison Bumgarner was just a little better, and Bill Hall was just signed. Bumgarner only allowed two runs through six, with two solo shots by Willie Bloomquist and Chris Young the only damage done. With Aubrey Huff on 2nd in the 6th, newly signed Hall (fresh off his release from Houston) hit a little bloop single to untie the game, and make it 3-2. It looked like the D’Backs and Giants were destined for another one run game, until the 9th. J.J. Putz came into the game trying to keep the score the same, and failed. Hall doubled with one out, then scored on an Eli Whiteside triple, who scored on a wild pitch. In the bottom half of the inning, it was once again time for “The Bearded One.” In a déjà vu on Tuesday night, the first two batters were retired, followed by the next two reaching, bringing the tying run to the plate. Pinch hitter Juan Miranda grounded out to Hall (fittingly) to end the game, 5-2, and the Giants clinch the series. 2 ½ games back.
W: Bumgarner (3-8)
L: Saunders (3-7)
S: Wilson (20)
POTG: In his first game with his new club, Bill Hall made quite the impression. 2-4, 1R, 1RBI isn’t the most impressive batting line, but those hits came at key times.
Thursday- Game 3 vs. San Francisco: They need to win. Plain and simple the D’Backs could not afford to be swept on their home turf, so they turned to their streak-stopper Ian Kennedy. Kennedy could not have picked a better night to turn in one of his finest outings of the year: 8 powerful innings, tarnished only by one unearned run. He struck out 10 Giants hitters, with the 3rd inning lasting under five minutes. He lowered his ERA under 3.00 to 2.98, and was supported by Chris Young’s 14th home run of the year in the 4th. An unearned run was plated on an errant throw by Miguel Montero in the 5th, bringing the score to 2-1. After 7 innings, it appeared that Kennedy was done, but he came out for the 8th, and struck out two more hitters to pad his stats. Then AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” hit the air and J.J. Putz entered. The first two hitters reached, and with Pablo Sandoval now at third, Cody Ross struck out. Then pinch hitter Pat Burrell flew out to Gerardo Parra, and the game seemed poised to end on an outfield assist. Unfortunately Parra caught it awkwardly and the Kung Fu Panda was able to score the tying run. The game went into the 10th, and Justin Upton untied it with the first D’Backs walkoff homer of the year. The D’Backs salvage the series with a 3-2 win. 1 ½ games back.
W: Hernandez (3-2)
L: Casilla (0-1)
POTG: Wow tough decision here…if Putz had able to hold onto the lead it would have been Ian Kennedy, but unfortunately he did not, so I’m going to give it Justin Upton 3-4, 2R, RBI, HR. He finished a triple shy of the cycle and raised his batting average to a team high .291.