By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–Forgotten in the Giants’ chaotic week of uncertainty and inactivity: the team’s bullpen is showing improvement and becoming a reliable force.
Trailing 4-1 after two innings, and reeling from starting pitcher Tyler Anderson’s ejection, and Mike Yastrzemski’s calf injury, just one of the things on manager Gabe Kapler’s wish list was scoreless innings from his relievers.
When it was all done, Kapler got seven of them, and a huge, offensive rally to squeeze past the Mariners, 6-4. Anderson, who drew Kapler’s ire for his ejection, received a huge reprieve as well.
“We were put in a really bad situation because of me, and our guys fought, and that was really great,” Anderson said . “I felt really terrible inside leaving them out to dry like that. But to see everybody step up and have big performances, that was huge for the team.”
Wandy Peralta pitched the third, fourth and fifth innings in the lengthiest and most effective outing of his big league career. Peralta threw 49 pitches while maintaining his velocity throughout, allowing no hits, one walk while striking out three. The reliever’s 207th big league appearance came and went without a hold or a win–or a change on the scoreboard–but it definitely made an impression.
“As tough as (Anderson’s ejection) was, it was equally rewarding, and in some ways inspiring, to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. He gave us a chance to climb back into the game,” Kapler said of Peralta.
Rico Garcia, Tony Watson, Tyler Rogers and Sam Selman followed Peralta, giving the Giants a scoreless frame each. None had it easy in terms of numbers of pitches thrown, but the strikeouts piled up. The Giants recorded 12 on Thursday, and 29 strikeouts in the two-game series.
Evan Longoria’s RBI single kicked off the Giants’ comeback in the sixth. Luis Basabe, the rookie inserted into the game when Yastrzemski departed, gained his first big league hit and scored for the first time on Longoria’s hit. Later in the inning, Brandon Crawford’s sacrifice fly scored Wilmer Flores and the Giants trailed by one, 4-3.
In the seventh, Flores tripled home a pair to give the Giants the lead, and Alex Dickerson’s run-scoring, sacrifice fly gave the Giants some insurance.
The Mariners dropped all four games with the Giants by an aggregate score of 31-13. Playing all four in San Francisco didn’t help, neither did the team’s offense which stalled at critical junctures.
“The Giants had our number this year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I can’t really put my finger on it. They swung the bats very, very well against us and we struggled to close out innings against them.”
The win was the Giants 10th in their last 15 outings, a sign of team’s ability to stay locked in despite the team’s just completed week long odyssey which resulted in three, consecutive losses and confinement in two hotels. Now, they’ll finish the season with 11 games in 10 days, first in Oakland against the A’s then the final eight at Oracle Park against the Rockies and Padres.
The Giants are above .500 at 25-24 and the Rockies’ loss to the Dodgers Thursday night increased the Giants lead to three games in the important race to finish third in the NL West. The two other third place clubs in the National League–the Phillies and the Cardinals–also lost on Thursday enhancing the possibility that the Giants could finish seventh in the playoff stack and avoid the Dodgers in the postseason’s opening round.