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Giants defeat Angels 4-2 and win their first series of the year

Brandon Belt and Johnny Cueto stole the show as the Giants knock the Angels down to second place in the American League West.

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Giants defeated the Angels 4-2 to win their first series of the 2018 season.

Brandon Belt was the man of the day from the start, where he set a MLB record for the most pitches in an at-bat.

He followed that up with an eight-pitch at-bat in the third, where he singled to right and scored on a home run by Evan Longoria, after Buster Posey hit into a double play that scored Joe Panik. In Belt’s next plate appearance, he hit a home run of his own - his fourth in the last four games he’s played in. He ended up going 3-for-5 with two runs.

Joe Panik also went 3-for-5, and Andrew McCutchen got on base three times with two walks and a hit.

Annoyingly, they couldn’t hit with runners in scoring position. They had four runs on 13 hits and several opportunities to score, but they stranded 10 runners. Which made the game feel a lot closer than it was for most of the game, especially as the later innings got dicier.

The frustration started back in the first inning. It lasted nearly thirty minutes, with Belt’s battle taking nearly half that time. The Giants managed to load the bases, get 49 pitches out of the rookie Jaime Barría (who would only pitch two plus innings), and not score a single run.

The Giants are going to come to regret using this as their “catchphrase” this year.

Johnny Cueto had a great game. It seemed almost impossible that his numbers could get any lower, but he didn’t allow a run so he’s down to a 0.35 ERA and 0.65 WHIP. He pitched six innings, allowed two hits, two walks and got seven strike outs. He seemed to struggle with the ankle that he’d previously been on the disabled list for, but he got through it and even had a no-hit bid going until Ian Kinsler broke it up in the sixth inning with a single to center field.

He got into a spot of trouble after that, after a fielding error by Brandon Crawford (that was unsuccessfully challenged) allowed Justin Upton to reach on a force attempt. Shohei Ohtani singled to load the bases, with only one out.

Luis Valbuena then hit into a double play, fielded by Belt, thrown to Crawford for the first out, then back to Cueto who covered the bag at first to get the second. Cueto’s reaction was one of the highlights of the game.

Reyes Moronta came in to pitch the seventh, and continues to be great, allowing only a walk and getting a strikeout in one inning of work. Unfortunately, Cory Gearrin cannot say the same. He came in to pitch the eighth and never recorded an out, allowing a two-run shot to Mike Trout, who has homered in every game in this series. Tony Watson then came in and closed the inning out without drama.

Hunter Strickland, resident closer, came in to pitch the ninth and it was a wild ride. He gave up a single to Jefry Marte (who replaced the injured Andrelton Simmons who was hit by a pitch in the second) and almost gave up a two-run homer to Kole Calhoun who was robbed by McCutchen in right field to save the game. Strickland then gave up a single to Rene Rivera, but managed to get Kinsler to pop out and make sure that he wouldn’t have to face Trout with the bases loaded.

This game was three hours and forty-five minutes long and I’m pretty sure it took about two years off of the life of everyone involved.

However, the Giants won their first series of the year, against the team that had had the best record in the American League West coming into the series, and now they get their first happy flight back to San Francisco, where they will face the Nationals tomorrow night.