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Casali’s clutch hit makes the difference in Giants’ 2-0 win over Braves

Casali hits a two run single, with stellar defense and a strong bullpen performance helping the Giants hang on to win.

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Defense, a strong bullpen, and a clutch hit helped the San Francisco Giants beat the Atlanta Braves tonight.

Alex Wood made his first start since going on the injured list for COVID-19, and thus was on a pitch count restriction. And he made the absolute most of it, going three innings, allowing no hits, runs or walks, and striking out four in three innings of work. Wood came out in the first inning and needed only ten pitches to get through it, he only needed 37 to get through his three innings of work.

It was a scoreless affair for most of the game, despite ample opportunities for both teams. The Braves threatened in the top of the fourth against Zack Littell, where it looked like Jorge Soler had hit a home run, but it was actually ruled a double because of a leaping catch attempt by Steven Duggar. The ball went into his glove, then rolled back out and into play. This was followed by a single to Freddie Freeman to put runners on the corners with no outs.

Austin Riley struck out with a foul tip that went into Casali’s glove. Riley insisted that the ball had hit him, but after review, it was clear that it did hit him, but after it hit the bat. After all of that, with runners on the corners the whole time, Littell ultimately managed to strike out three in a row to end the inning.

The Giants were the ones who did the damage in the fourth inning. LaMonte Wade, Jr. started things off with a lead off walk, followed by a single from Brandon Crawford that snuck past a diving Ozzie Albies and into shallow right field.

This brought up Mike Yastrzemski, who bunted to advance the runners, but was thrown out just before he could reach (ruled a sacrifice bunt). Curt Casali came up with runners on second and third and one out and hit a line drive single to right field, allowing both Wade and Crawford to score the only runs of the game.

They had a real opportunity in the fifth, though, as Braves’ starting pitcher Charlie Morton started losing his command. Tommy La Stella was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, followed by walks to Kris Bryant and Crawford to load the bases for Mike Yastrzemski with two outs. A wild pitch might have allowed La Stella to score, but he stayed at third, due to how quickly Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud played it. Crawford, however, started to really go for second but made it back before d’Arnaud noticed how far he’d gone. Not that it mattered, because Yastrzemski struck out to end the inning.

The bullpen was strong tonight, backed by stellar defense. Jay Jackson pitched the top of the sixth and allowed a lead off walk to Jorge Soler. Brandon Belt had his back, however, as Freddie Freeman lined one directly at Belt, who was holding Soler on the bag, and was able to make an unassisted double play.

Jose Alvarez had another Brandon to thank, as he entered to pitch the top of the seventh. With two outs, Eddie Rosario singled on a line drive to right field. In the next at bat, pinch-hitter Orlando Arcia grounded into a force out, where Crawford made an excellent play to La Stella to end the inning.

Tyler Rogers pitched a clean eighth inning, followed by Dominic Leone, Mr. Do-It-All starter and closer, who entered to pitch the ninth. With one out, Leone allowed a single to Adam Duvall, after which the defense once again saved the day, as d’Arnaud grounded into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game and give Leone the save.