The Giants defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 7-6, in 12 innings on Friday night. Joe Nathan picked up the win, his second of the season, with Cory Gearrin getting his third save.
The win was the Giants’ 75th of the season, and they move to within four games of the Dodgers in the National League West.
Kelby Tomlinson had the game-winning hit, a one-out single to center field in the 12th inning.
Madison Bumgarner threw six innings, allowing a pair of two-run home runs and striking out nine.
Javier Lopez faced one batter, allowing a walk, and Gorkys Hernandez finished the game in left field.
The same two teams will face off tomorrow night, as Johnny Cueto takes the hill for the Giants.
* * *
Also, other things happened! Let's explore those other things!
I'm thinking of a post-Tarantino '90s movie. It starts with some sort of wacky dialogue, moves on to an altercation, and then the frame FREEZES on Cory Gearrin in left field.
CORY GEARRIN (V.O.): Yep. That's me. I suppose you're wondering what I'm doing in left field.
That's the only way to tell the story. It has to be a nonlinear narrative. It makes the viewer think, say, what is Cory Gearrin doing in left field? What a setup!
He was in left field because Bruce Bochy loves platoon matchups. Loves them. Will Smith gets righties and lefties out at a similar clip. Has for a long time. He's the best possible replacement for Jeremy Affeldt, right down to the weird injury. He's not someone like Javier Lopez, whom you only want to bring in if you want to walk a left-handed hitter. But that's okay, because Bochy would rather put Cory Gearrin in left field rather than let a left-hander face a right-hander.
That's italicized for emphasis, but remember, the Giants won. So temper every bit of anger you read here. The Giants won. This is funny. I'm not even mad.
This is relevant because of what happened in the ninth inning.
SANTIAGO CASILLA (V.O.): Yep. That's me. I suppose you're wondering WHAT IN THE ABSOLUTE SHIT I'M DOING WITHIN 500 FEET OF A PITCHING MOUND IN A CLOSE GAME. Well, that's a funny story.
A really funny story! See, the Giants won, and they gained a game on the Dodgers. They kept pace with the Cardinals and Mets, and if the season ended right now, they would be in the postseason. Good for them. Remember this as you rage along with me.
Before the game, Bruce Bochy said that he was going to play matchups in a save situation. No manager likes to use "bullpen by committee," but it was sort of unavoidable here. Look, Casilla was still going to get important innings (wink), but it's more of a matchup thing now (wink).
And when Casilla got the first out, Bochy was vindicated. See? He isn't completely useless. He can still get right-handers out.
Which brought up Jake Lamb. The should-have-been-an All-Star was on the bench against the Giants on Aug. 31. I remember thinking that was odd. Took a puff of my corncob pipe and investigated, I did. Found this:
Jake Lamb vs. LHP: .157/.269/.326
Jake Lamb vs. RHP: .281/.348/.576
He's Jake Peavy against left-handed pitchers. He's David Ortiz against right-handed pitchers. For a platoon fetishist, this isn't even a conscious decision. You know how you have a half-hour on Mondays where you stare at your computer without typing or check out and sit on the toilet? That's what Bochy should have taken advantage of. The semi-conscious gift of the average workday. Just walk out there, put the lefty in, and walk back. Wouldn't even remember it happened the next day.
He didn't do that, but, again, the Giants won. Can't stress that enough.
Instead, we figured out a stronger desire for Bruce Bochy than platoon advantage. Scientists cracked the code. It's loyalty. And not just in the brain dead, "Hurr, this my guy, my guy good, you shut up." But Bochy knows the state of the bullpen. It's not the sort of bullpen that can afford to send a reliever over the rampart in a trebuchet. They might need Casilla at some point. And I agree with that. Kind of. Casilla has lost me, to be honest, but I respect the sentiment. It's an all-hands philosophy, and Bochy is trying to make sure he has everyone ready to contribute.
At the same time, dude. Dude. It's Jake Lamb, who murders right-handers.
Santiago Casilla has been awful against left-handers this year. And Lamb has crushed him over the last two years, too.
There was a left-hander warming in the bullpen. Will Smith, if you'll remember. The lefty who can pitch against righties, which is one of the reasons he cost a top prospect.
It was completely inexplicable. Bochy left Casilla in. And the Giants won! Maybe he knew something you don't, ha ha. But the Giants almost lost their third game out of their last five because of a blown save, and this was easily the most preventable.
Your job is to imagine what happens if Casilla closes it out, though. Strikes Lamb out on three pitches. Gets one more out, no problem.
He's still the closer. The trial balloon would have sailed into the sun, and no one would have cared. Casilla would have passed the mini-test, and good for him. He's still the closer.
Instead, Casilla looked as incompetent as ever.
Bochy said he really thought of moving Casilla to LF and having Will Smith face Lamb in 10th. "But ... I didn't see Casilla in left field."— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) September 10, 2016
No, no, wait, no. That's not necessary. See, I'd rather have Smith face Goldschmidt if it comes to that. Or A.J. Pollock or Yasmany Tomas or Jay Bell or Tony Womack. Really, any Diamondback in franchise history. I'll take Smith over Casilla right now.
But it's a good thing that Casilla proved one last time that he isn't to be trusted. When the Giants have a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth of the Wild Card Game, they'll turn to Literally Anybody Else for the save. I honestly believe that. For as loyal as Bochy his, for as much as he wants Casilla on his side and ready to contribute, this is the game that broke him. He knew it was risky. He knew he was going against the platoon orthodoxy. And when it didn't work, he knew it made him look like an ass.
This was a good game. In theory. The Giants won! And there's no way that future save situations will be business as usual going forward, so it's the best of both worlds. The Giants got the treasure, and they learned what it meant to be a good friend. Casilla can't possibly be a closer, not exclusively, and we've all figured it out. Even the manager.
It's a small sacrifice. Also, the Giants won! Can't mention that enough.
* * *
A quick note on two plays that saved the game. After Denard Span santiagoed a fly ball in center that allowed the Diamondbacks to tie the game, Brandon Crawford did this:
By law, I have to mention Alex Gordon, but the comparison is bunk. Crawford was way farther out on this play, and Chris Owings is much faster. Also, Owings was already 20 feet around third when Crawford makes his throw.
Gordon would have been thrown out by seventeen Owingeseses. Don't compare the two.
The other game-saver:
These plays remind you of why the Giants are even contemplating life beyond 162. They have one of the best defensive shortstops in the game. They have a manic right fielder who will make plays like that and get a bunch of hits at the plate. That's the blueprint.
They can still figure it out. And now they'll do it with a new closer-by-committee or what have you. When Joe Nathan closes out a Game 7, remember this game. It was a turning point.
Also, remember Cory Gearrin playing left field. It happened because a platoon-happy manager didn't want to give up the platoon advantage, even though the lead was blown in the ninth because he was willing to give up the platoon advantage.
Giants win. Dodgers lose. The wild card is as it was. And this was the dumbest game of the season from the dumbest team I've ever watched. How I loved it so. With the benefit of hindsight.
There are so many things I hated about that game, but it's late and the Giants won! Just a normal win.
Nothing to see here.
Move along. Just a normal win.