Former San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey acknowledges the crowd, former teammates, former Giant manager Bruce Bochy, manager Gabe Kapler, Giant announcers, the media and much more as the Giants pay tribute to his career in baseball at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Sat May 7, 2022 (AP News photo)
St. Louis. 7. 14. 3
San Francisco. 13. 9. 0
Saturday May 7, 2022
By Lewis Rubman
SAN FRANCISCO–The first time I saw Buster Posey play was on June 13, 2009, when was the catcher and clean-up hitter for the San José Giants against the visiting Modesto Nuts. He got one hit in two at bats to go with a pair of walks.
Who would have thought that, 13 years later, I’d be attending a tribute to his 12 year major league career, in which he compiled a lifetime batting average of .304 with wins above replacement of .831, while leading the San Francisco Giants (15-12) to World Series championships in 2010, 2012, and 2014, capping it all with last year’s 107 win NL West division championship?
But, then, who would have thought that many of the 40,113 fans who attended the ceremony would have been wondering if this year’s Giant team would ever break its current five game losing streak, in which it dropped seven of its eight most recent contests?
They did break it, whalooping the visiting St Louis Cardinals (16-11) convincingly, 13-7.
Two changes in the San Francisco lineup this afternoon indicate that there had been a serious problem and also a possible solution. The indication of a problem was that Brandon Crawford, the hard, but sporadic, hitting shortstop, who usually is a delight to watch field his position was benched, replaced by Mauricio Dubón.
Crawford had been hitting .236 in spite of a three game hitting streak. His fielding percentage was .949, thanks to his five errors, as opposed to only nine over all of last season. Perhaps this brief rest will enable Crawford to resume his high standard of play. Dubón would go 2 for 4 with a home run and a single. He also made several nifty plays in the field.
The more important change was Brandon Belt’s return from the injured list, playing first base and batting in the third position. The outcome of his outing was, at the end of the game, was in doubt. Belt had to leave the game in the bottom of the eighth, when it appeared that he had fouled a ball onto one of his feet.
San Francisco sent Logan Webb (3-1 ERA 3.26) to the mound, and he quickly allowed the Cardinals to jump ahead. Tommy Edman walked on four pitches and stole second on the called third strike to Paul Goldschmidt.
Nolen Arenado’s hard hit single to right center plated Edman to put St. Louis up, 1-0. Just as quickly as he had gotten into trouble, Webb pitched himself out of it, thanks to a U4-3 double play, Estrada to Belt.
The Redbirds’ starting pitcher, southpaw Steven Matz (3-2 ERA 4.56) is, as his ERA indicates, eminently getatable. And the Giants got to him in their half of the first. They loaded the bases with a walk to Slater, an infield single by Dubón, and another walk to Belt.
After Darin Ruf popped out to second, Wilmer Flores unloaded the bases by unloading a 394 foot grand slam into the left field bleachers. The Giants didn’t get greedy, and after 34 pitches, Maltz got out of the frame with his team still behind, 4-1.
The Cardinals came rushing back with the thousandth career RBI by another catcher who might very well become a Hall of Famer.
Yadier Molina smacked an 0-2 pitch into right for a single that drove in Juan Yépez from third, which he had reached on a hard hit infield single, followed by Dylan Carlson’s productive ground out to short, and Harrison Bader’s single to center.
Bader then scored on Paul DeJong’s single to center, reducing the Giants’ lead to a single run.
Dubón reopened the gap with a two run fly that just made it over the 391 foot marker in dead center field with Mike Yatrzemski on first with a lead off single to right.
Then Darin Ruf added another two tallies to the scoreboard, sending Belt, who had received his second consecutive passport, home with a 383 foot round tripper that cleared the National Car Rental sign in left center. The blast came off a 93 mph sinker. San Francisco now had a lead of 8-3.
That was all the Giants would score against Matz because, after Webb set the Cards down in order in the third, Jake Woodford relieved the Cards’ woebegone starter, who left a legacy of two innings pitched, eight runs, all earned, allowed on five hits, three of which went yard, and three walks. He threw 57 pitches, of which 34 were deemed strikes
A walk and an uncontested stolen base put Harrison Bader in scoring position in the St. Louis fourth. Score he did, on DeJong’s single to left, reducing the distance between the two teams to four runs.
Flores got another chance–two chances, in fact–for a second grand slam when he came to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom half of that frame.
He lofted a pop foul on a 1-1 count, but the 39 year old Molina dropped the ball while every Little League coach in the stands muttered, “Use two hands!” Then Flores flew out to right, a sacrifice fly that restored the home team’s five run margin. The run, incidentally was unearned.
Webb left after pitching five mediocre innings, throwing 84 pitches, 56 for strikes. All four runs he surrendered were earned. They came on eight hits and two bases on balls. He struck out seven Cardinal batters.
Domenic Leone took his place on the pitcher’s rubber.
Woodward was lifted with one out in the bottom of the sixth, which Packy Naughton wrapped up for St. Louis.
The relievers on parade continued, with Zach Littell allowing the Cardinals to draw closer in the top of the seventh on 391 foot four bagger by Dylan Carlson, his to right with Goldschmidt and O’Neill on board. It was Carlson’s first homer of the year.
Once more, the Giant bullpen was faltering. Bader legged out a single to short, bringing Molina to the plate, representing the potential tying run. He worked a full count before striking out. Side armer Tyler Rogers would replace Littell in the eighth and hold St. Louis scoreless in spite of a two out double by Goldschmidt.
Then it was Nick Wittgren on the mound, trying to keep St. Louis in the game after the crowd had finished singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” He failed. A one out single by Luis González, followed by Estrada’s two bagger to left put San Francisco’s run total in double digits.
Kodi Whitley dutifully replaced Wittgreen to open the home eighth and failed more ignominiously than his predecessor, walking all five batters he faced. (In reality, he faced six; LaMone Wade, Jr. replaced Belt, who injured himself during his plate appearance).
The walk to Flores gave the Giants third sacker his sixth RBI of the afternoon. TJ McFarland, who replaced Whitely after the walk to Flores, hit González and gave up a sac fly to Estrada before being rescued by a pitcher´s best friend.
It was up to Jarlín García to protect the orange and black’s 13-7 lead and return the team to the win column. In spite of a lead off walk no O’Neill, García held St. Louis scoreless.
The Giants haven’t announced who will start for them in tomorrow afternoon’s fray, scheduled for a 1:05 first pitch. The Cards will send righty Dakota Hudson (2-2ERA 3.16) to the mound.