San Francisco Giants starter Kevin Gausman acknowledges the crowd after being lifted in the top of the eighth inning against the San Diego Padres at Oracle Park in San Francisco (AP News photo)
San Diego. 3 – 11 – 0
San Francisco. 2 – 5 – 0.
By Lewis Rubman
Saturday October 2, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO–With 106 wins under their belt and having clinched a postseason berth with their win over the San Diego (79-82) Padres on Thursday night, you’d think that the Giants’ (106-55) two remaining games against the Pads would be meaningless but it took ten innings to get a result tied up 2-2 the Padres scored a run in the top of the tenth to put the Giants chances to clinch the NL West on hold one more day in a 3-2 loss.
You would, however, be laboring under a misapprehension. The results of this weekend’s contests at Dodger Stadium and Oracle Park are of cardinal importance.
A Dodger sweep of the NL Central champion Brewers and a Giant failure to sweep the friars would set up a 163rd regular season game to determine which of the two teams would receive a bye and which would have to face the red hot St. Louis Cardinals in a wild card game that would send the loser home until spring training. And that’s not all. The winner of the LA-SF duel after either 162 or 163 games, would go on to have the home field advantage in any postseason series.
That’s important for any team, and the Giants, for all of the wins they have under their belt, will need every break they can get, not least because Brandon Belt’s having broken his left thumb on September 27 will keep him on the injured list until at least October 7, if San Francisco should get that deep into the postseason.
The Dodger game won’t start until 6:10 this evening, so when the dust had settled at Oracle Park after this afternoon’s nail biting loss to the Padres, nothing had been settled except that the Dodgers would last to fight another evening.
San Francisco took the lead in the bottom of the second, when, to chants of “MVP, MVP” Brandon Crawford looped a shift be damned lead off double to right off Padres starter Joe Musgrove and came home on Kris Bryant’s clean single to center.
San Francisco’s starter, Kevin Gausman, avoided any serious trouble until Fernando Tatís, Jr., fisted a double down the line to right with one down in the top of the fourth. The Padres left him stranded after Gausman retired Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth on ground outs, preserving the home team´s slim lead.
The Giants threatened again in the fifth, putting their first two men on base via an infield single (Ruf) and a hit batter (Crawford). But Musgrove worked his way out of that jam with a liner to Machado at third (Bryant), another to Marisnick in left center, and nubber to the catcher (Duggar).
Musgrove was lifted for pinch hitter, Adam Frazier, with one out in the sixth. It turned out to be a smart move because Frazier singled to left. Trent Grisham forced him out of a sharp grounder, Ruf to Crawford, and then advanced to third on Tatís´s Texas League single to right center.
Machado’s sharp single to left drove in Tatís before Cronenworth grounded into a force, short to second to end the frame, but not before the damage had been done and the score was tied at one all.
Musgrove had turned in an admirable five innings of work, allowing just one run. on three hits and, although he hit Crawford with a pitch, no walks. He struck out four Giants, and threw a total of 70 pitches, only 18 of which were balls.
It took one pitch from Ross Detwiler, Musgrove’s replacement, for Austin Slater, batting for Wade, to untie the knot. He drove an 89 mph four seamer over the left center field fence for his 12th home run of the year.
It was the team’ s 18th quadradrangular pinch hit of the year, breaking the record in that category it had shared with the 2016 Cardinals. Detwiler set the next three Giants down in order and gave way to Pierce Johnson, who pitched a perfect seventh frame.
The 40,767 fans in attendance, or at least most of them, cheered Gausman as he walked off the mound before throwing a pitch in the top of the eighth, replaced by Zach Littell. San Francisco’s starting pitcher had gone seven full innings and allowed but one run, earned, on six hits and a walk. He threw 84 pitches, 63 for strikes, and struck out five Padres.
Tommy Phan, hitting for Johnson, led off with a 3-2 single to center and immediately was replaced by pinch runner Javy Guerra, who motored to third on Grishman’s double down the line to right, putting the tying and winning runs in scoring position. Tatís whiffed on a 97 mph four seamer for the first out.
Machado worked the count to 3-2 and then lifted a sacrifice fly to left for the Pads’ second out but also their second run. That ended Littell’s stint. José Alvarez took over and got Cronenworth out on a grounder to Crawford, once more eliciting chants of ¨MVP, MVP.¨
Daniel Hudson opened the eighth for San Diego. After disposing of Wilmer Flores, hitting for Alvarez he surrendered a single to left to Tommy LaStella but recovered to strike out Alex Dickerson, pinch hitting for Slater.
Like LaStella and Dickerson, Ruf worked the count full, but he swung and missed for the third strike, and we went into the ninth tied at two and with Camilo Doval on the hill for San Francisco.
Profar greeted him with a single to right. Ha-Seong Kim laced a sharp line drive to left center on which Ruf, who had just moved to left field, made a nice running catch. But Marisnick singled to left, putting the potential go ahead run in scoring position at second. Eric Hosmer then batted for Hudson. With the count at 1-1, he fouled off a 100 mph fast ball before swinging at and missing an 89 mph slider.
Now Tim Hill was on the mound for San Diego. Crawford sent Grisham to the 391 foot marker in straight away center field to corral his fly for the first out. Evan Longorria, who had replaced Bryant at the hot corner, flew out to right, and Yastrzemski grounded out to second.
The zombie runner in the top of the tenth was Caratini, since the last out of the ninth had been made by the pitcher’s spot. Kevin Castro was on the mound, facing the top of San Diego’s batting order. Grisham moved Caratini to within 90 feet of pay dirt with a grounder to second. Tatís struck out swinging, and Castro gave Machado a free pass, a decision that would please ironic students of Cuban history.
Then Castro returned to the dugout, replaced by Jarlín García. Cronenworth sent a hard liner past a diving Flores at first base, driving in Caratini and sending Machado to third, where he was stranded when Profar fouled out to Longoria.
Ex-Giant reliever Mark Melançon came in to try closing out the win for San Diego. He struck out Duggar. Buster Posey, who had been given a rest for this day game after a night, pinch hit for Casali and grounded weakly to the mound, sending the placed runner, Yastrzemski, to third. It was up to Wilmer Flores. He flew out to center, and it was time for the Giants to wait out the results of the Dodger-Brewer game down south.
Tim Hill was the winning pitcher. His record stands at 6-6, 3.62. Kelvin Castro, 1-1, 0.00, took the loss. The save went to Melançon, his 39th.
Sunday’s game is slated to start at 12:05. Logan Webb (10-3, 2.93) is San Francisco’s probable starting pitcher. The Padres haven’t decided who will go for them.