The San Francisco Giants took the field against the San Diego Padres in the last series of the 2013 season after Hunter Pence received the Willie Mac Award surrounded by past winners such as Matt Cain, Andres Torres, and J.T. Snow. Hunter was humble, complimentary, and appreciative; all the things you would love to see in any player on a major league roster, especially after the shenanigans Brian Wilson displayed last night.
The Giants lineup had the majority of its stars playing in their typical positions. Buster Posey was behind the dish, Pablo Sandoval held down the hot corner, Brandon Crawford waited to dazzle fans with spectacular plays at shortstop, and Hunter Pence took his usual perch beneath the Levi’s Landing sign in right.
The Padres had three hits in the first inning against Friday night’s starter, Ryan Vogelsong, Tommy Medica stroked a smooth single to left, scoring Chris Denorfia with ease. The Giants leadoff hitter, Gregor Blanco, smoked a single to right center, but unwisely decided to try and stretch his single into a double and Denorfia threw him out easily at second. Tony Abreu followed Blanco’s base running error with a triple which would have scored Blanco from first with ease. The Giants were unable to score Abreu from third with one out in the inning.
Juan Perez hit his first career homerun to left-center field, about three feet into the stands on a 1-1 pitch from Burch Smith, scoring Pablo Sandoval who had worked a work two batters earlier. With the Giants leading 2-1 going into the third inning, the Padres needed to answer, and answer they did. Jedd Gyorko crushed a Vogelsong offering off the out of town scoreboard in right field, trucked toward third, but was hosed by Brandon Crawford at third base.
Brandon Belt had a quick answer to Gyorko’s double; after Tony Abreu hit a flailing single to right, Belt crushed a ball well over the people sitting above the right field fence, giving the Giants a 4-2 lead. Hunter Pence added to his already exciting day, following up with a laser shot to left that gave the Giants a 5-2 lead and left Padres fans wondering what kind of restaurants were around the area.
Armed with a three run lead, Vogelsong settled in, issued three walks and gave up a double to Will Venable. The Padres had runners on first and second with Gyorko up to bat, but Gyorko hit a lazy fly ball to Pence and the threat was over. Vogelsong pitched six innings, gave up five hits, two earned runs, and had three strikeouts. This was Vogelsong’s fifth start of the year in which he allowed less than three earned runs.
The Giants bullpen, especially Santiago Casilla, pitched brilliantly in relief of Vogelsong. Casilla inherited runners on second and third, walked Tommy Medica, then promptly struck out Jesus Guzman and got Nick Hundley to bounce into a 1-2-3 double play.
The rest of the night was relatively quiet, the Giants had a potential inside-the-park homerun with Gregor Blanco driving a ball to Triples Alley, as he rounded third, Tim Flannery hesitated, then decided to send him, but the decision came to late and Blanco was thrown out at home. The hit was scored as an RBI triple, but that hit gave Blanco a really great bad night. Blanco was thrown out at second, picked off at first, and thrown out at home while driving in two runs on the night. Conversely, Juan Perez, vying for a spot on the 2014 roster, had hits for a single, a double, and a homerun, falling just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.
So the San Francisco Giants start the final series of the 2013 season off with a win against their division rivals, the San Diego Padres. The Giants bats were alive and well, hitting three homeruns and scoring a total of seven runs on the night. The Giants pitching as a whole was pretty fantastic as well, allowing the Padres to plate just three runs. Ryan Vogelsong ends his 2013 campaign with one of the best starts of his season and said, “I’ve been working hard, had a hard time with my delivery, but tonight it was a little better.” He added, “I have a lot of work to do in the offseason, but I am probably closer than you think.”
Questions loom with player contracts, who will and won’t be brought back for the 2014 season. The Giants had a lack of depth on their roster all season and were not able to overcome injuries or lacking production from within their organization, but on a cool, September night in San Francisco, the Giants did everything right and walked away with a win.