By Gabe Schapiro
On Friday night, a sellout crowd of 41,103, the 244th consecutive sellout at AT&T Park, went home happy. Thanks to an unusual display of power in a park where it’s hard to come by, the San Francisco Giants (75-85), came away with a 7-3 victory over the San Diego Padres (75-85). Ryan Vogelsong, making his final start of 2013, wasn’t at his best, but he battled all night and limited the damage. With the win, and a Colorado Rockies loss, the Giants are guaranteed to finish in no worse than fourth place in the NL West.
In what proved to be a good omen, prior to the game the Willie Mac Award, named after the great Willie McCovey and annually given to the Giant who best exemplifies the spirit and leadership that Big Mac played with, was deservedly awarded to Hunter Pence. Thankfully San Francisco didn’t spoil what from the get-go was a positive environment.
Following the ceremony and a slightly delayed start, it took some time for Vogelsong to settle in. Right out of the gate the Padres were making hard contact, and in the first inning they got on the board with a solid single to left field by Tommy Medica that brought home Chris Denorfia, who had singled earlier in the inning.
In the second inning San Francisco made some noise of their own. Pablo Sandoval took a rare walk, and then two batters later rookie Juan Perez got a hold of one and sent a 1-1 pitch just over the left field wall for his first career home run. The homer gave the Giants a 2-1 lead.
After the game Bochy complimented how well Perez has adjusted to life in the major leagues following his first big league long ball. “He’s really turned it up a notch here, he’s played great on both sides of the ball. He looks a lot more comfortable at the plate, he’s quieter up there…the ball jumps off his bat. I’m glad to see him get that sense of belonging up here.”
San Diego wasted little time in responding. Denorfia walked to lead off the next half inning, and as walks so often do, it came back to hurt Vogelsong. Up next was Jedd Gyorko, who sent a towering fly ball towards triples alley that smacked off of the right field wall. Gyorko was thrown out trying to turn it into a triple, but Denorfia easily scored from first to tie the game at 2-2.
In the top of the third it only took the Giants three pitches to punch right back. Abreu singled to lead off the inning, and Brandon Belt followed with his 17th home run of the season, a no-doubter into the porch in right field. Two batters later Pence got in on the slugfest, and to celebrate his Willie Mac Award in style hit his 26th homer of the season, extending the lead to 5-2.
After the third, for the most part both starters settled down, until the sixth.
In the top of the sixth Vogelsong ran into some control problems, walking two, but managed to gut his way through the inning unscathed. With that his night was over having scattered five hits, two runs, four walks, and three strikeouts in his six innings. He threw 91 pitches.
On Vogelsong Bochy kept it simple, saying that after the game ““I just told him great job, great start. Good for him how he finished….I was happy for Vogey bouncing back from a rough start like that.”
By the ninth the Giants had added two more runs to their lead, making it 7-2. In the ninth the Padres tried making it interesting when Logan Forsythe led off with a long home run to dead center, bringing them to within four, but that’s where the comeback attempt ended.
This series against the Padres, the last of the season, continues tomorrow at 1:05 PM.
Game Notes: Following the three home runs hit by the Giants tonight, they have 105 on the season, two more than they did during their World Series run in 2012….Gregor Blanco almost hit for an usual kind of cycle, getting himself thrown out at first, second, and home plate during the game. Bochy announced that Cain would not make his last scheduled start, making his 2013 season over as well.