When Tim Lincecum departed in the sixth inning, things didn’t look good for the San Francisco Giants.
Lincecum surrendered six runs, and the Giants trailed 6-2 when he left. It wasn’t entirely Lincecum’s fault, as an error on Marco Scutaro proved costly when the Rockies scored five two-out runs in the second inning. However, the runs counted for the Rockies, and the Giants had a big hole to dig out of.
Then, the offense struck.
After two walks (taken by Gregor Blanco and Hector Sanchez), Adam Ottavino replaced Juan Nicasio and came in to face Brandon Crawford. Crawford, who is known for his glove and not his bat, hit a hard line drive to left field, one that kept going until it reached the seats. Crawford’s bomb ignited the team, and the offense stepped up after Crawford’s home run.
Nick Noonan, who recorded his first hit on Sunday against the Cardinals, singled to get the Giants going again. Angel Pagan, who had three hits on the night, singled as well, and after a bunt by Marco Scutaro (who also had three hits) and an intentional walk to Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence came up. Pence rocketed a single into right field, tying the game at six.
San Francisco’s bullpen held down the fort after the offensive outburst, twirling three great innings. Sergio Romo finished off the game for his fifth save of the season, and Santiago Casilla got the win by throwing a perfect eighth inning. Casilla benefited from a spectacular sliding catch by Scutaro and a nice running catch by Sandoval, as the defense stepped up after Scutaro’s error.
After Casilla’s strong eighth inning, Andres Torres lined a double that landed just over the head of right fielder Michael Cuddyer. Pagan followed by crushing a line drive up the middle, tying the game with a single. Sandoval also hit an RBI single, and Blanco brought home another run with a bunt that forced an errant throw by pitcher Wilton Lopez. The Giants were finally able to string hits together, as they racked up 14 hits in 35 at-bats for a tremendous batting average of .400.
And the Rockies? They picked up four hits in nine innings.
Lincecum was able to fight through a tough second inning to strike out seven and throw 104 pitches, as he was able to locate pitches better as the game went on. Lincecum also got some nice swinging strikeouts by effectively placing his off-speed stuff near the dirt, which generated some swings-and-misses from hopeless Rockie hitters. Even though the stats would suggest otherwise, Lincecum didn’t pitch horribly.
And, he kept the Giants in the game, eventually allowing the offense to spring to life and win the game.
Juan Nicasio didn’t pitch horribly either, but he struggled. Nicasio gave up four earned runs in five-plus innings, and he threw 95 pitches. Neither pitcher was able to keep their pitch count down, as both teams were able to work counts, stay patient and draw walks. The Giants got more results (in the form of nine runs), but both teams did well on offense. Troy Tulowitzki crushed a home run in the fifth inning for the Rockies, which was Lincecum’s only mistake after the second inning.
Thanks to nine hits (and seven runs) in the last three innings, three hits from Scutaro and Pagan, two RBI from Pence and a three-run blast from Crawford, the Giants escaped with a crucial win. The Giants are now tied for first in the NL West with a 5-3 record, and they have now experienced a good offensive game (the Giants had averaged 2.7 runs per game over their first seven games).
Lincecum has confidence from going six innings and pitching well in the later innings, and the team has confidence from their rally. The Giants will have to regroup for a 12:45 PM game tomorrow, and they will have Barry Zito on the mound. Because the Giants started this series well, they will have the opportunity to sweep a series for the first time this year.
However, for now, the Giants can enjoy the riveting show they just put on to conclude tonight’s game.