The first five innings of this game had all the hallmarks of a good old fashioned pitching duel, with Drew Pomeranz improving on an already strong June with seven strikeouts in five innings of work, and Zack Greinke doing what he does best, keeping the Giants from scoring runs in their own ballpark.
This is good news if you track trade value like other people track the stock market, as Pomeranz’ has gone up yet again. He was pulled after the fifth inning, though, and it’s easy to blame this loss on the bullpen, if you’re just looking at the box score. However, neither Sam Dyson or Mark Melancon deserve the entirety of your ire.
No, that gets split with the defense, who made all the kinds of mistakes you can’t make when you are relying on minimal offense to win a game. And when Greinke is on the mound in San Francisco, that is exactly what you have to hope for. He turns an already pitcher-friendly park into an offensive tombstone, and tonight was no exception.
With the game tied at zero, Dyson came in to pitch the seventh inning and he didn’t help his own cause on defense. Tim Locastro hit the ball towards third base, where Pablo Sandoval would have had the best chance to make the play. Instead, Dyson attempted it, but couldn’t get his footing and fell, losing the ball and allowing Locastro to reach safely.
And then, in the most astounding defensive decision of the game, Adam Jones was able to reach on what ended up being a fielding error by Kevin Pillar. Mike Yastrzemski and Pillar both attempted to make the play, with Yastrzemski in better position to do so, but Pillar inexplicably called him off, then wasn’t able to make the catch. Yastrzemski did his best to salvage the play, but couldn’t get the throw in in time. Dyson redeemed himself later in the inning, however, by running down Locastro for the out at third on a fielders choice from Ketel Marte. Eduardo Escobar singled to Pillar to knock in Jones, however, and the Diamondbacks scored the first run of the night.
But the fun doesn’t stop there! In the eighth, Christian Walker, true to his name, walked to start the inning, facing Melancon. Alex Avila singled up the middle as Brandon Crawford dove in a way we’ve seen him do hundreds of times for excellent defensive plays, but he wasn’t able to get back up in time to make the play at second, and his throw to Brandon Belt was too late, everyone was safe.
With bases loaded, Melancon got the strikeout he needed against Locastro, but pinch-hitter Ildemaro Vargas hit another ball up the middle for Crawford, who once again attempted a diving play, but once again wasn’t able to get up quickly. Knowing he only had a play at one base, he opted to throw to third, but his throw was way off and Sandoval never had a chance. The ball flew into the dugout and two runs scored. Jones singled in Avila to give the Diamondbacks their fourth run of the night.
The Giants made some noise in the bottom of the inning, with walks from Pillar and Tyler Austin giving the team two runners with one out. This brought in Andrew Chafin, and all I have to say is that he looks like a cop from the 70s. Tell me I’m wrong:
Anyway, he was effective. He struck out Belt, and got the pinch-hitting Buster Posey to pop up to end the inning, effectively ruining our dreams of a Pablo Sandoval grand slam, as he was on deck.
Derek Holland pitched a comparatively easy ninth inning, thanks in large part to some stellar defense from Tyler Austin and Stephen Vogt, Austin’s being the defensive highlight of the night:
In the ninth, Sandoval singled on a pop up to center field, which worked out perfectly with where the Arizona defenders were playing. This brought about pitching change number one, which saw Chafin replaced by Yoshihisa Hirano. Hirano had a defensive adventure of his own, as Alex Dickerson reached on a softly hit groundball that flirted with the first base line. Hirano attempted to make the play at first, but it went wild.
This brought about pitching change number two, as Greg Holland was brought in to face Vogt. Which was definitely effective...for Vogt, who smashed a three-run homer that nearly made it to the cove. Now, if you thought that that would mean another pitching change, you are incorrect! But if you thought that it was nice to see some runs score but it ultimately wouldn’t matter, you are correct! The Giants almost seemed like they were making it a point to go down in order after that as quickly as possible, with Brandon Crawford striking out on three pitches, Pillar hitting an absolutely screaming liner that was caught at the warning track, and Joe Panik striking out to end the game.
And because it’s Saturday, and you deserve nice things, I will leave you with this to remember this game by: