Rookie pinch-hitter lifts surging Giants past Snakes

Sports Radio Service
Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PHOENIX, Arizona – For a kid called up from Double-A for the pennant pursuit, San Francisco’s Matt Duffy is handling the pressure like a seasoned veteran.

“It feels good. It gives you confidence,” Duffy said of pinch-hitting in key situations. “When (Giants Manager Bruce Bochy) shows confidence in you, then you develop confidence in yourself. I think that’s helped relaxing myself.”

Duffy’s two-RBI pinch single in the top of the ninth inning snapped a 2-2 deadlock, giving the Giants a 4-2 win Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field.

“Matt’s shown some great poise up there,” Bochy said. “He’s got good discipline at the plate, and he has that composure that you like to see as a pinch-hitter. … I like him up there in that situation.”

Giants first baseman Brandon Belt added, “That was a big spot in the game, and we had to win this game. So for (Duffy) to come up and do that, especially as a rookie, that’s pretty awesome.”

With the win, the Giants took two out of three games from the Diamondbacks while gaining two games on first-place Los Angeles in the National League West race. The Dodgers, meanwhile, were pummeled 16-2 in Denver by the Colorado Rockies.

The Dodgers now lead San Francisco by two games in the NL West, and the Giants hold the edge over Pittsburgh in the NL Wild Card race by percentage points.

Bochy admitted that it’s hard not to scoreboard watch, but said, “We have take care of our own business first.”

Pablo Sandoval greeted Snakes reliever Addison Reed (1-6) to lead off the Giants’ ninth. After Andrew Susac struck out, Brandon Crawford singled and pinch-hitter Brandon Belt walked to load the bases. Duffy, batting for reliever Sergio Romo, delivered a base hit to the gap in left-center field, scoring Sandoval and Crawford.

“I saw mostly sliders,” Duffy, who was called up from Double-A Richmond on Aug. 8, said. “In a situation like that, I just try to be aggressive because you might get just one pitch to hit. At 3-and-2, I knew (Reed) had to come in with a strike and he’d shown he could throw both sliders and fastballs for strikes.”

Madison Bumgarner, seeking his 19th win, wound up with a quality start despite not figuring in the decision. Bumgarner gave up two earned runs on seven hits, struck out six and walked two while throwing 101 pitches in six innings.

Jean Machi, Romo (6-4) and Santiago Casilla combined to throw three shutout innings in relief, giving up two hits. Romo picked up the win, and Casilla notched his 17th save.

San Francisco scored first when a two-out RBI double by Crawford followed a walk to Andrew Susac in the second inning. Crawford was 4-for-4 with two runs scored and a run batted in.

The Diamondbacks answered with a run in the bottom of the second. After Cody Ross was issued a one-out walk, Tuffy Gosewisch singled and two batters later, starting pitcher Andrew Chafin delivered with an RBI single in his first major league at-bat.

San Francisco took a short-lived 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth. Crawford led off with a base hit, moved to second on a wild pitch and – after a walk to Juan Perez and a sacrifice bunt by Madison Bumgarner – scored on a sacrifice drag bunt to first by Gregor Blanco.

Arizona responded in the bottom of the fifth to tie the game at 2-2. A.J. Pollock tripled, then scored on Susac’s throw to first after dropping a third strike to Mark Trumbo. While Trumbo was thrown out at first, Buster Posey’s throw to the plate was too late to retire Pollock.

In the Giants’ sixth, Hunter Pence tried to beat out a relay throw to first on an attempted double play and was ruled out after a 2:16 replay review.

Gosewisch was 3-for-4 for Arizona, while Ender Inciarte and Pollock each had two hits.

Chaflin went six innings in his second major league start, giving up two earned runs on three hits. He struck out two and walked four.

“(Arizona) pitched well against us here,” Bochy said. “These last two games could have gone either way.”

After taking Thursday off, the Giants head to San Diego for a three-game series against the Padres. Tim Hudson (9-11) will start for San Francisco, facing Tyson Ross (13-14). The Giants will start Yusmeiro Petit (5-4) on Saturday and Ryan Vogelsong (8-11) on Sunday.

“Obviously we need to win as many games as possible,” Belt said. “We know we have to take care of ourselves. We have to play good baseball or they’re going to sneak up on us.”

GIANTS JOTTINGS: With monsoon rains pouring on the Valley, the roof was closed at Chase Field, to the delight of the 19,272 in attendance. … Belt’s at-bat was his first since coming off the disabled list two days ago. … Giants OF Angel Pagan was scheduled to undergo an MRI for his ailing back on Wednesday. … San Francisco’s magic number to clinch a postseason berth is eight. … The Giants are 42-33 on the road, second best in the NL behind Los Angeles.

Daniel Dullum covers MLB and the NHL for Sports Radio Service.

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