In a game that felt like the lull before the storm that is the Los Angeles Dodgers coming to town, the Giants seemed flat on Wednesday night as Trevor Cahill and the Diamondbacks made light work of San Francisco winning the game and the series in front of another sellout crowd at AT&T Park.
Cahill was dominant from the start as he recorded five strikeouts through the first three innings, including all three batters on called third strikes in the second.
Cahill was so good that prior to allowing a one out walk in the bottom of the sixth he was perfect through five and took a no hitter into the seventh.
Madison Bumgarner wasn’t quite as sharp for the Giants but he did pitch better than his line reflected. After recording the first out in the seventh, Adam Eaton reached base with an infield single followed by a double off the bat of Hill scoring Eaton.
At 97 pitches Bruce Bochy felt like Bumgarner had hit his wall and opted to go with Jean Machi. Machi not only allowed Hill to score, he gave up three more runs putting the Giants behind 6-0.
The box score shows Bumgarner surrendered four earned on seven hits over six and a third, but the Giants desperately needed him to go deep in the game and he battled into the seventh despite not having his best stuff.
“You have games like that throughout the year where you don’t feel like you have any life on your ball,” Bumgarner said after the game, “I tried to pitch with what I had and felt like it definitely could’ve been a lot worse.”
Down six runs entering the seventh, Marco Scutaro broke up Cahill’s no-no with a leadoff single, which also ignited the Giants only real rally of the game. After Pablo grounded out, Buster Posey singled and Hunter Pence walked, loading the bases with one out and Brandon Belt coming to the plate.
Belt, who is hitting .379 over his last ten games, lined a shot over Aaron Hill at second base plating Scutaro and Posey.
Pinch hitting for Gregor Blanco, Ryan Theriot hit into a four-six-three double play to end the rally and the inning.
Then things got a little chippy in the top of the eighth inning. With two on and nobody out Adam Eaton hit a ground ball to Brandon Belt at first base, which he immediately threw to Sandoval at third to get the lead runner John McDonald.
Anticipating a slide from McDonald as the ball arrived first, Sandoval started to bend down to make the tag and was surprised to see McDonald coming in high towards his chest.
Sandoval tagged McDonald and then immediately pursued him going face to face while spouting what looked to be a few choice words.
Sandoval downplayed the exchange after the game, avoiding any real comment about what set him off.
“It’s part of the game, it happens. There’s moments where you don’t think about it but tomorrow’s another day, just keep moving.”
When pressed further about if he felt McDonald’s came in high Sandoval still avoided any real comment.
“I don’t know, moments like this you don’t think about it, you just go for it.”
Bochy provided a little insight on the play after the game but also downplayed the significance.
“I think Pablo felt like [McDonald] elbowed him there in the chest and you know it happens, tempers flare, but not really a big deal.”
It was an eventful part of a very uneventful end to the ballgame as the Giants failed to mount any real threat in the eighth or ninth inning.
Fortunately for the Giants the San Diego Padres won again beating the Los Angeles Dodgers 4-3, keeping them four and a half games behind San Francisco as they come to town to open up a huge three game series on Friday.
Asked about the magnitude of the series Bochy concurred it’s important series but added it was par for the course for this time of year.
“It’s a big series, they all are, this is September baseball when you are watching the scores and every game is important……I think both teams will look at this as a big series, it’s going to be intense out there and that’s why you play the game, that’s why we’re here.”
The Giants will send Tim Lincecum (8-14) to the mound on Friday night against the Dodgers newly acquired starter Josh Beckett (1-1) in a series that will have huge implications on who wins the NL West.
If the Dodgers can come into AT&T and sweep the Giants like they did the last time they were here, they will be a game and half out and will have created a ton of momentum moving forward.
If the Giants turn the tables and sweep the Dodgers, as they have two out of the last three series they met, they will be seven and a half games up and could coast to a division title.
One things for sure, the scene at AT&T Park will be loud, ruckus, and add surely another chapter in the storied rivalry between these two proud franchises.
(Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained first-hand.)