The bottom of the ninth inning for the Giants was all about the Brandon’s. Opening the ninth with a leadoff walk, Brandon Belt would eventually score the winning run on Brandon Crawford’s liner up the middle as the Giants beat the Padres 3-2 in front of 42,559 screaming fans, the 131st consecutive sellout at AT&T Park.
After opening the game with two runs in the bottom of the first, the Giants offense was held in check by Padres starter Edinson Volquez (6-7) who settled down and didn’t allow another run through seven.
Making his 20th start of the season, Madison Bumgarner (11-6) was the recipient of the early two run lead, but gave it right back in the top of the second.
After surrendering doubles to Carlos Quentin and Jesus Guzman, Bumgarner intentionally walked Everth Cabrera to face the pitcher Volquez. With one run already in, Volquez looped a lazy single behind second base to tie the game.
After the second Bumgarner would also settle down, making it through the seventh with nine strikeouts, allowing just the two runs.
The outing was another magnificent performance for Bumgarner at AT&T Park. Bumgarner’s record at home this year is 7-1 with a 1.81 ERA. More impressive he’s 15-2 over his last 18 starts at AT&T Park with an outstanding 1.80 ERA.
After the game, Bumgarner was quick to credit the defense for allowing him to settle down and pitch deep in the ballgame.
“They’re unbelievable. I think there was a few times when I just got lucky and they hit it close to them and [the defense] made some nice plays.”
One play in particular was an unbelievable double play the defense turned in the top of the third inning.
After Chase Headley singled, Carlos Quentin hit a shot just to the right of second base. As Theriot caught the ball on a tough hop, he was able to flip to Crawford who somehow got a throw off even though he leaped high in the air to avoid Headley who was coming in hard.
Crawford’s throw was in the dirt, but dug out by Pablo Sandoval, who essentially did the splits to make the play.
The incredible play brought the crowd to its feet but the cheers were quickly subdued as Sandoval began to limp after he got up.
On the stretch, Sandoval strained his left hamstring and will have an MRI on it tomorrow to assess the severity.
Asked after the game if he felt like the injury was serious, Sandoval refused to give any kind of prognosis saying, “I don’t know what’s going on, so we’re going to see tomorrow if it’s a big deal or not.”
While the double play in the third was a play that will make most highlight reels, it wasn’t even the best double play the Giants turned in the game.
Ironically, it involved the same two guys for the Padres as Chase Headley hit a one out single in the top of the eighth off of Sergio Romo bringing Carlos Quentin to the plate. On a 1-0 pitch, Quentin smashed a ball to the gap in left centerfield.
Running at full speed from the crack of the bat, Angel Pagan was somehow able to catch up to the ball and make a diving grab. The catch was amazing in itself, but Pagan wasn’t finished.
Immediately popping up, Pagan was able to fire a bullet to Crawford in shallow centerfield, who then turned and threw a frozen rope to Belt at first base completing the double play.
Once again, the crowd was on its feet as it gave Pagan a standing ovation as he made his way back to the dugout.
Bruce Bochy spoke after the game about the importance of playing great defense.
“Defense can win a ballgame for you, especially when you are playing a lot of tight games.” Commenting about Pagan’s catch, Bochy said, “Huge. It’s hard to find a better catch.”
With the win, the Giants pick up a game on the Los Angeles Dodgers who lost in St Louis earlier in the evening. The Giants are now two and a half games up in the division and are currently riding a six game winning streak at AT&T Park.
They’ll go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon as Tim Lincecum (4-10) takes the mound to face Jason Marquis (5-9). Game time is 12:45pm.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes have been obtained first-hand.