San Francisco Giants Brandon Crawford (35) blasts a two run home run in the bottom of the ninth to walk off a Giant win at Oracle Park in San Francisco against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tue Aug 16, 2022 (AP News photo)
Arizona (53-63). 1. 5. 0
San Francisco (59-57). 2. 7. 0
Tuesday, August 16, 2022
By Lewis Rubman
SAN FRANCISCO–It’s encouraging that the Giants came to work this evening on a roll. Since being swept by the Dodgers a dozen games ago, San Francisco has gone 7-2 and were on the verge of a five game winning streak and had, at long last, clawed their way over .500, at 58-57.
Of course, those seven wins were against the A’s, Pirates, and Diamondbacks, none of which is an awe inspiring opponent. Tonight’s starting pitcher for Arizona, however, was a prophylactic against over confidence. The Giants Brandon Crawford hit a walk off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to help get the Giants a one run win at Oracle Park on Tuesday night.
Merrill Kelly, the Rattlers’ 33 year old righty who honed his skills in the Korean Baseball Organization, showed up with a 10-5, 2.93 mark for the MLB season. More pertinent to his start against the Giants tonight was his 2-0, 1.69 record against the orange and black, whom he had held to a batting average of .139.
On July 25, in his last start against San Francisco, he shut them out over eight innings, allowing only 3 hits and no walks, striking out seven. Like the Giants, Kelly was going for a five game winning streak.
The Giants’ answer to Kelly was Jakob Junis, whose unprepossessing record of 4-3, 3.78 when he toed the rubber at 6:45 inspired neither great expectations nor fear and trembling. His career record against the Diamondbacks also was ambiguous 2-2, 2.61 in a scant 10-1/3 innings of work.
In his only appearance against Arizona this year, he lasted 4-1/3 innings, giving up a run, earned, on three hits and a walk, while striking out a pair of Diamondbacks. That was the game in which Kelly stymied the San Francisco bats over eight frames.
It was a battle between these two hurlers that we witnessed, at least until Alex Young relieved Junis after the starter had treated the 20,897 fans in attendance to a splendid performance.
The Giants eventually won 2-1 in a contest that featured superb pitching by both starters and, with one notable exception, both bullpens.
For San Francisco, Junis went seven innings of excellent ball. His 101 pitches, 72 of them strikes, limited the visitors to a single run, on four hits, one of which left the park. He didn’t walk anyone but did hit one batter. He notched seven strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 3.53. He got a no decision.
Kelly also went seven frames. He held the Giants scoreless on four hits, two of them doubles, and two free passes.He struck out seven Giants and threw 93 pitches, 61 of which were strikes. He, too, got. a no decision, lowering his ERA to 2,81.
Joc Pederson banged a two bagger off the Bank of America sign just to the left of the 399 marker in center field to open the Giants’ half of the first. Brandon Belt was up next, and he drew a walk. Wilmer Flores followed him by flying out to center, bringing the cleanup hitter, Evan Longoria, to the plate. He hit into a tailor made 6-4-3 twin killing. The Curse of the Leadoff Double strikes again!
Neither team crossed the plate in the first three innings. That changed in the top of the fourth when Chrilstian Walker led off by lifting a 2-1 slider 397 feet into the left field bleachers, over the spot where the GAME UP sign meets the one for National Car Rental to the right of the 354 foot marker. It was the 29th round tripper and 69th run batted in of the year for the Diamondbacks’ first sacker.
The Giants responded with a one out double to the right field corner by Belt. Once more Longoria had a man on second with one out, only this time there was no one else on board. Kelly struck him out swinging on a lovely change of pace. After Kelly and Yastrzemski battled each other to a 3-2, Kelly fanned Yaz on another changeup, stranding Belt and leaving the home team behind 1-0 after four.
With the score still 1-0 Longoria led off the seventh with a double to left that fell safely to the ground in spite of a diving effort by McCarthy. Longoria stayed on second when Mike Yastrzemski flew out to medium deep right center for the first out.
Estrada dropped a bunt that moved Longoria to third. The rule book instructs scorers to assume that a bunt that advances a runner is a sacrifice, but common sense (which often is in conflict with the rules of major league baseball) says that he had to be bunting for a hit.
Crawford drew a walk. Now there were runners on the corners with two down and Joey Bart, hitting .314 since his return from Sacramento, at bat. The count reached 2-2 before he skyed out to right.
Alex Young took over on the mound and pitched a perfect eighth for the Giants. Another southpaw, Joe Mantiply, relieved Kelly in the bottom of the frame. He struck out pinch hitters Austin Slater and JD Davis, but yielded a two out double to Flores. Then he fanned Belt when the Giants’ first baseman couldn’t check his swing on a 1-2 change up.
It was John Brebbia on the hill for San Francisco, trying to keep the Giants in striking range of the Diamondbacks. To do that, he had to get through the heart of the Arizona order, Rojas, Walker, and McCarthy.
The first of the trio singled to left. Brebbia fanned the second. McCarthy forced Rojas at second but beat out Crawford’s throw to first. Alek Thomas went down swinging, and the Giants had one last chance at bat.
They faced Ian Kennedy, who had converted eight of his 11 save opportunities. Longoria popped out to short. Yastrzemski sent Thomas to the 399 foot sign in center field. Thomas leaped. And came down with the ball in his glove for the second out.
Now Thairo Estrada, the hero of Sunday’s come from behind walk off victory, had a chance for an encore. He sent a 2-2 93 mph four seamer deep into right and legged out a triple. That put Crawford in the batter’s box. He swung and missed on Kennedy’s first pitch. He swung and connected on Kennedy’s second offering. The ball cleared the center field fence, it having travelled 406 feet.
The Giants won, 2-1.
Brebbia (6-1) got the win; Kennedy (4-6), the loss.
You can’t make this stuff up.
Tomorrow’s 6:45 matchup between Zach Davies (2-4, 4.11) and Carlos Rodón (11-6, 2.95) promises more thrills and chills.