Breath of fresh air: Arroyo, Morse lead Giants to dramatic, 4-3 win over the Dodgers

AP17117205632762

By Morris Phillips

When it comes to Giants-Dodgers baseball, the emotions are all over the place.  You don’t necesarilly need to track Michael Morse circling the bases, tounge wagging, hair swinging to know that.

Manager Dave Roberts was tight-lipped, but you could literally see the decisions replaying in his head after his Dodgers saw their 3-0 lead evaporate on Wednesday, and morph into a frustrating 4-3 loss to the Giants. Did Roberts lift starter Alex Wood too soon? Did Pedro Baez literally go from unhittable to just-got-hit that fast? Did Adrian Gonzalez make the right play on Nick Hundley’s difficult grounder that would load the bases ahead of Hunter Pence’s game-winning, sacrifice fly? And what of that pitch sequence to Pence that allowed the free-swinging slugger to escape 0-2 and get a pitch elevated?

Ten pitches, all above the belly button with pace.  To Pence?

“I don’t like to second-guess sequencing too much,” Roberts said, after noting the similarity in Ross Stripling’s two-strike offerings.

Roberts and Morse weren’t the only ones reacting to the game’s dramatic turn.

Sergio Romo wanted to be today’s news in his return to AT&T Park. But he wasn’t that after allowing Christian Arroyo’s first major league home run, and seeing his ERA jump to 10.57. Romo’s 80-mph slider unleashed the 21-year old’s big swing, a certain reminder why no one in the Giants’ organization was willing to entertain trade offers involving their top-tiered prospect.

Arroyo’s quick, powerful swat was reminiscent of 23-year old Buster Posey’s swing in 2010, when the Giants’ catcher deposited 18 balls beyond the fences in his first, full big league season.

While Morse’s game-tying shot in the eighth provided the game’s signature moment, Arroyo not-so-quietly made it possible with his shot in the seventh.

“We were down three. Now we’re down one.  We were just not doing anything against Wood,” manager Bruce Bochy admitted.

Dodgers’ starter Alex Wood didn’t allow a hit until Drew Stubbs led off with a single in the sixth. But Wednesday’s outing was Woods’ first one of any length since the end of spring training. Roberts approached it cautiously just as he did when Stripling flirted with a no-hitter a year earlier in similar circumstances.  So with a 3-0 cushion in the seventh, Roberts pulled the plug on Wood, looking to gain confidence in his reconfigured bullpen outside of reliable closer Kenley Jansen.  Roberts’ move didn’t work.

“The bullpen’s been great all year for us,” Wood said.  “It was a tough one for us tonight.”

How tough? Flamethrower Pedro Baez, summoned in the eighth, had not allowed a run in six, previous appearances. Morse, on the other hand, just returned to town for the first time as a Giant in three years.  Part of the club’s early season shakeup, Morse and Kelby Tomlinson were recalled from AAA Sacramento earlier in the day.

One pitch after Morse waved at Baez’ 95-mph heat, he sent one into the left field bleachers, setting off the slugger’s unbridled celebration.  You can’t make this stuff up: The game score on Wednesday was exactly the same before and after Morse’s shot as it was in the Giant’s 2014 NLCS clincher against St. Louis.

“It was cool and not only for me,” Morse said. “I think for the team, it was a really big moment.”

The Giants conclude their series with the Dodgers on Thursday at 1245p in a matchup of Matt Moore and 20-year old Julio Urias, making his season debut.

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