In my series preview, I predicted the Giants to win two out of three in the series despite scoring fewer than ten runs. It is now impossible for that prediction to come true as the Giants scored ten runs tonight.
Seven of those runs came in one inning. Brandon Crawford, Andrew McCutchen, Pablo Sandoval, and Nick Hundley all hit home runs. The once and future catcher, Buster Posey, hit a booming two-run double. Alen Hanson had a pinch-hit double, and Hunter Pence showed some encouraging signs.
It was a good win then. The Giants have had a lot of these lately. Five in a row to be exact.
Though I was confident in the Giants’ ability to win tonight, I did not think the score would turn out like this based on how the game began.
Derek Holland got off to a strong start, striking out the first four batters he faced. He’d eventually retire eight out of the first nine batters. The Diamondbacks couldn’t touch his breaking stuff and couldn’t see his sinker. It looked like the Giants’ unexpected and entirely welcome streak of quality starts would continue.
But then the fourth inning happened. Holland lost command of the strike zone and the Diamondbacks weren’t getting fooled by his curve or his slider. Holland pitched back-to-back-to-back-to-back full counts to Paul Goldschmidt, John Ryan Murphy, Jake Lamb, and Ketel Marte.
Marte eventually beat him with a double that was about five feet from being a three-run homer. As such, it was merely a two-run double, but that double meant that Holland gave up twice as many runs as the Giants did all weekend against the Phillies.
Though if Holland’s fourth inning was rough, Godley’s fourth inning was a Roland Emmerich movie but worse. At least for him. For the Giants and their fans, it was rad. It took exactly two batters for the Giants to tie the game because Andrew McCutchen and Brandon Crawford hit back-to-back homers.
This was McCutchen’s second home run in as many days. McCutchen wasn’t going to keep slugging under .400 so the power was going to come back eventually. I just didn’t know it was going to be all at once.
Now, I’m very much a “Don’t meet your heroes” person especially when it comes to baseball players. You never know who will turn out to be a goblin or a ghoul or a guy who unironically plays covers of ‘90s alterna-rock. But that doesn’t apply to Andrew McCutchen. McCutchen is a good egg, and if you need further proof here’s a GIF:
It’s a small gesture, but it’s so rare to see. Crawford, for instance, did not high five the kid after his dinger (or at least the broadcast didn’t show it). I understand why it doesn’t happen more often. If I were a player, I’d want to be left the hell alone. That kid and his sister (who also got a high five, but did not get GIF’d) are going to remember that for the rest of their lives.
McCutchen and Crawford’s dingers would be the first two runs in a seven-run fourth inning that featured two great at-bats from guys recently returned from the disabled list.
After Evan Longoria grounded out and Pablo Sandoval singled to center, Hunter Pence displayed patience I don’t recall seeing from him, at least not in the last few seasons. I’m not going to suggest that Pence has suddenly learned to take more walks because it’s just one at-bat, but he deserves credit for this one.
A major weakness of Pence throughout his career but especially in recent years is his inability to lay off breaking stuff outside of the zone. Pence fell behind 1-2, but laid off a curveball down below the zone and another curveball right at the knees (which maybe should have been called a strike). He took another curve well off the plate for the walk. At the beginning of the year, Pence is striking out in that at-bat, but not tonight.
Pence is 1-for-4 with a walk since coming back from his extended rehab assignment. He may not have come back and immediately hit one off the Coke bottle, but he’s not flailing wildly at sliders he has no chance of hitting.
Then, with the bases loaded, Alen Hanson came in, and while he didn’t display patience per se, he had a great at bat all the same. Godley threw him four straight curves in the strike zone and then another that almost his back foot that he somehow managed to foul off. Godley, thinking he could get a fastball by him after five straight hooks, left a fastball up and away and Hanson went with it for a two-run double to put the Giants up for good.
“It’s too high!”
Except for Hundley’s home run, all the dingers hit tonight came with the element of surprise. None of them looked like home runs off the bat, the fielders all seemed to be making a play on it until the very end. McCutchen’s just scraped over the top of the wall. Crawford’s barely got into the first row. Sandoval’s though looked like a pop fly that just kept going. For the entire six seconds it stayed int the air, I thought there was no way it was going out. It was just, you know, too high.
Statcast had this home run at 129 feet in the air. Both Hundley’s and McCutchen’s home runs were hit at half that height. Crawford’s home run, which a traditional deep fly ball was hit 76 feet into air.
*Psst!* Madison Bumgarner tomorrow.