It was another historic day at the ballpark, as Yusmeiro Petit, filling in for a struggling Tim Linecum, set a Major League record and the Giants beat the Rockies 4-1.
Gregor Blanco gave San Francisco the lead early on. Pablo Sandoval led off the bottom of the second with a single before Blanco launched his second home run in five days into the arcade in right, making it 2-0 Giants. The left fielder is 9-for-his-last-23 (.391). It’s no accident, as it’s something he’s been working on since the All-Star break.
“My change is just my timing. My timing is better, and I’ve been trying to keep the ball more in front…and it’s been working…and I think it’s a lot better and a little bit more consistent, too. And I’m glad that I did, especially for the team, and for me, too.”
But the story of the day was on the mound for San Francisco. Coming in the start, Petit had retired 38-straight batters and needed to put away seven more to tie the Major League record of 45 held by Mark Buehrle.
He retired the first eight men he faced, striking out four of them and setting a new record with 46 straight outs. He was met with a standing ovation from an appreciative crowd at AT&T Park. For a guy who came just one out short of a perfect game in 2013, it was a touching moment.
“I think it’s like a reward for all the work I put into my pitching. I think God gave me a second opportunity, and I said to myself, ‘He’s given me another opportunity. This time I’m not going to allow myself to not get to do it.’ And that’s what I eventually did.”
It was a feat that impressed his teammates.
‘It’s unbelievable to be able to retire 46 guys in a row,” said Blanco. “That’s amazing.”
Along with breaking records, Petit also continued the streak of quality starts by Giants starters in this series. He threw six four-hit innings and gave up just one run with no walks and nine strikeouts. In the last four games, the starting rotation allowed just three runs in 30 innings (0.90 ERA). Susac knows the pitching staff is picking a good time to get hot.
“It’s crunch time, so to get consistent outings, guys pounding the zone…how much easier it is to go up and hit when you have quick, one-two-three innings like Yusmeiro did today. The consistency’s great. [Hudson] pitched a great game, you got [Bumgarner] throwing a one-hitter. It’s pretty hard to get beat when you’re doing that on the mound.”
The black-and-orange added some insurance runs later in the game. Angel Pagan – who’s five-for-his-last-six – led off with a single and stole second against Jordan Lyles in the bottom of the sixth. Joe Panik worked a walk before Buster Posey flied out to deep right, allowing Pagan to tag up and move to third. A Sandoval walk loaded the bases for Hunter Pence, who delivered a sacrifice fly.
In the eighth inning against Juan Nicasio the Giants scratched across one more. Sandoval led off with a walk, Pence extended his hitting streak to ten games with a single, and an RBI single from Andrew Susac made it 4-1.
The win on Thursday gave San Francisco the series three-games-to-one, and it was a series they desperately needed to take. Apart from Monday night’s four-error loss, the Giants made the pitches when they needed to and delivered the clutch hits. It was night and day from the last time these two teams met at AT&T Park, when Colorado took advantage of every Giant mistake for the sweep.
San Francisco now sits 4.5 back of Los Angeles in the division but just a half-game behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They also extended their lead to two games over Pittsburgh and Atlanta for the second WC. They welcome in the first-place Milwaukee Brewers over the weekend, and Ryan Vogelsong (7-9, 3.78) will look to extend the winning streak against Wily Peralta (15-8, 3.56).