The San Francisco Giants and the Colorado Rockies slugged it out at Coors Field, combining to hit nine home runs, as the Giants won a wild one 12-10 in 11 innings.
Matt Cain wasn’t sharp against a potent Rockies line-up, and Colorado jumped out to an early lead. Charlie Blackmon singled to lead off the bottom of the first and two batters later, Troy Tulowitzki gave his team a quick 2-0 lead with his fourth homer of the year.
The Giants got one of those runs back on the first of their six long balls of the day, a solo shot to right-center off the bat of Michael Morse to lead off the second, but Colorado began to pile it on in the bottom of the inning.
Brandon Barnes, DJ LaMahieu, and pitcher Tyler Chatwood hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases, and Blackmon grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring home Barnes. With Nolan Arenado batting, Cain threw a pick-off to first that Brandon Belt couldn’t handle, and LaMahieu came in to score on the E3. Cain did get Arenado to ground out before Tulowitzki singled home Blackmon, making it 5-1 Rockies.
But after a week of being dormant, the San Francisco bats finally woke up. Brandon Hicks led off the top of the third with a solo shot to right-center, his second of the year. Cain helped his own case by following that up with a single over the head of the right-fielder Barnes, and, with two outs, Hunter Pence also singled before Morse crushed his second home run of the day – fifth of the season – to left-center. Suddenly, the game was tied at five.
But the fourth inning brought more drama to the game. With one out in the top of the inning, Brandon Crawford drew a walk. Hicks was called out on strikes, and the throw into second was good enough to get Crawford trying to steal. Bruce Bochy came out to argue the called third strike before getting ejected almost immediately by home plate umpire Chris Conroy. In the bottom of the frame, Blackmon continued to dominate the Giants, this time by launching his fifth home run of the season to center to give Colorado a 6-5 lead. Blackmon now has eight hits in just five games against San Francisco this season.
Cain settled in to pitch a 1-2-3 fifth and sixth, and his offense, who hadn’t gotten him a win in his previous two starts despite Cain only allowing one run in each of those games, finally came through. With one out in the top of the seventh, Pence walked, and Belt hit his seventh home run of 2014 off of Rex Brothers, giving the Giants their first lead of the day. Belt is now tied with Mark Trumbo of Arizona for the National League lead in long balls.
It looked as if, despite his struggles, Cain would come away with the win, but the Rockies wouldn’t quit. Blackmon walked to lead off the bottom of the seventh and came in to score on an Arenado double. Once again, the game was tied. After Cain walked Tulowitzki, his day was done. It was a rough outing, with him throwing 104 pitches in six-plus innings. Cain allowed ten hits, seven runs, walked three, struck out four, and raised his season-era from 2.88 to 4.35.
Jeremy Affeldt was brilliant in preserving the tie for the Giants after replacing Cain. Affeldt struck out Justin Morneau and Wilin Rosario. After pinch-hitter Drew Stubbs worked a walk to load the bases, Affeldt got Barnes to ground out to end the inning.
Once again, the tie game didn’t last too long, as Hector Sanchez gave the Giants the lead on his first home run of the year to lead off the top of the eighth. And, once again, the Rockies came back. LaMahieu singled to lead off the bottom of the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Charlie Culberson, moved to third on a (questionable) balk by Santiago Casilla, and came home on a ground out by – who else? – Blackmon.
The pitching on both sides finally settled in. After Cain and Chatwood combined to allow 12 runs in 12 innings of work, the bullpens carried the game into extra innings. For San Francisco, Casilla, Javier Lopez, and Jean Machi combined to throw three innings and give up just one run.
For Colorado, Matt Belisle, Latroy Hawkins, and Boone Logan also tossed three innings of one-run ball before the Giants finally broke through against right-hander Chad Bettis in the top of the eleventh.
Pence collected his third hit of the day when he singled to lead off the innings. Belt followed it up with a walk, and both runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Juan Perez. Then, the Rockies and manager Walt Weiss made the curious decision to intentionally walk Joaquin Arias – who was batting just .133 against righties – to face switch-hitter Sanchez.
Sanchez made them pay. After a ten-pitch at-bat, he crushed a grand slam – the first of his career – to center field, making it 12-8 and giving the pitching the cushion it often needs at Coors Field.
Sergio Romo needed that insurance, as Tulowitzki singled to lead off the bottom of the eleventh, and Morneau hit his fifth home run of the year to make it 12-10. But Romo settled in, closed out the game, and the Giants are flying home happy.
After today’s marathon game, San Francisco luckily has Thursday off before returning to AT&T Park on Friday night to face the Cleveland Indians.