By Morris Phillips
Among the things that aren’t safe at Coors Field, you can add two-seam fastballs with good location and 6 ½ game win streaks.
And yes, five-run leads already have a prominent place on the list.
The Giants stepped into the Mile High house of horrors with 35 hands on deck and a couple of reasonably attainable goals on Monday: win the completion of May 22’s washout and a regularly scheduled game as well to keep the pressure on the first-place Dodgers in the NL West.
And they were well on their way to attaining those goals when the middle-aged ballpark and the home team made a stand midway through the regularly-scheduled game.
That’s when the five-run lead disappeared. Sergio Romo’s quality two-seam fastball and the Giants’ win streak would prove to be vulnerable soon after that as well.
The Giants captured the suspended game that resumed tied 2-2 in the sixth by pushing across a pair of runs in the eighth to win 4-2. In the regularly-scheduled game, the Giants blew a 7-2 lead as the Rockies scored eight times after the fifth inning to win 10-9. The final leg of the Giants’ bullpen’s implosion came as Romo delivered a fastball low and away to Charlie Blackmon and he shot it into right field allowing Michael McKenry to race home with the game-winning run.
The Giants can only blame themselves for the deluge of Colorado runs. In the sixth, leading 7-2, starter Tim Hudson saw the first four hitters of the inning reach base, but the last of the four–pinch hitter Matt McBride—reached when Giants’ second baseman Joe Panik dropped a potential double play ball on a throw from Pablo Sandoval.
“We don’t get that double play, and not only don’t get it, don’t get an out,” manager Bruce Bochy noted. “Especially in this ballpark you give them extra outs it came back to bite us.”
The Rockies went on to score four runs in sixth and three more in the seventh to take a 9-7 lead. But the Giants fought back, scoring twice in the ninth to tie it with both runs coming off hot closer Latroy Hawkins. In the ninth, Panik doubled to lead off and Buster Posey and Sandoval provided run-scoring singles.
But no sooner than the Giants got even, they were beaten as Romo allowed three base hits including the game-winner off the bat of Charlie Blackmon. The Rockies’ outfielder was thrown a fastball off the plate but found a way to hit into right field for the game-winner. With runners at first and third and two outs, Romo had an option to pitch around Blackmon, and it appeared he was executing that strategy when Blackmon went outside the zone to deliver the base hit.
With the split decision and the Dodgers’ loss to the Nationals, the Giants moved to within two games of the division leaders with 24 games remaining for both teams. The loss in the regularly scheduled game brought an end to the Giants’ six-game win streak that didn’t include the win in the completion of the suspended game.
By winning a game that began on May 22, the Giants achieved a 43-21 record after their first 64 scheduled games. That record is the best after 64 games by any team in major league baseball since 2003, when the Mariners were also 43-21 and the Braves were one game better at 44-20.
The Giants had 10 additional players available as September 1 marked the first day for minor-league call-ups. Among those recalled were Bochy’s son Brett, a pitcher; former first-round pick, outfielder Gary Brown and reliever Hunter Strickland. Strickland pitched his way out of a jam in the eighth inning in the regularly-scheduled game giving the Giants a chance to rally in the ninth.
On Tuesday, the Giants turn to Yusmeiro Petit in his bid for a second, consecutive outstanding start. Petit will be opposed by Colorado’s Jordan Lyles.