On a night of uncertainty, with scheduled starter Matt Cain scratched just an hour before first pitch, the Giants found production from different sources and took the second game of the series 6-0 over the San Diego Padres.
San Francisco wasted no time getting on the board on a lead-off home run by Angel Pagan. It was the seventh career lead-off home run for the Giants centerfielder and his second of the year. Two batters later, Buster Posey – starting at first base for a struggling Brandon Belt – hit his sixth bomb of the season to make it 2-0. It was the first time the Giants have hit two home runs in the first inning of a game since Fred Lewis (yes, Fred Lewis) and Bengie Molina did it against the Washington Nationals on July 22, 2008.
San Francisco tacked on three more runs in the third when the top of the order came through again. Pagan, who’s now batting .340 on the season, and Hunter Pence led off with back-to-back singles, and Posey walked to load the bases. After a slow start, Pence is now batting .252 and has an eight-game hitting streak. Michael Morse hit into a routine 1-2-3 double play, but after getting down 3-0 to Pablo Sandoval, Eric Stults decided to intentionally walk him to keep the bags full.
With two outs, Hector Sanchez then ripped a single up the middle, scoring two. In his last two at-bats with the bases loaded, Sanchez has crushed a grand slam (April 23 in Colorado) and singled in two giving him six RBIs.
Despite their struggles with runners in scoring position lately, going just 21-for-117 (.179), San Francisco is 32-for-105 (.304) with runners in scoring position and two outs, which is the best in baseball. On Tuesday night, those two-out hits helped to knock out Padres starter Eric Stults after just two-and-two-thirds innings. After holding the Giants to just one run in six innings on April 19, Stults gave up seven hits, five runs, walked two, and struck out one on just 51 pitches.
Brandon Crawford got in on the fun, singling home Sandoval, making it 5-0 after just three innings. It was more than enough run support for last-minute starter Yusmeiro Petit. The right-hander received word that he was starting Tuesday night’s game after batting practice after Cain cut his finger in the kitchen prior to first pitch. The cut wasn’t serious enough to warrant stitches, but Cain wasn’t able to warm-up without the cut opening up, so the Giants called upon Petit to step up.
And step up he did. In his first start of the year, the righty was perfect through three innings, finally allowing a lead-off single to Everth Cabrera in the fourth. In all, he tossed six shut-out innings, giving up three hits, walking none, and striking out four. He threw just 72 pitches – 50 strikes – but it was more than enough for San Francisco to give Cain – who is expected to make his next start – an extra night to rest. In a late-season start last season, Petit fell just one strike shy of a perfect game and on Tuesday, manager Bruce Bochy was really impressed with what the long-reliever gave his team.
“What a great effort. Any time you lose your starter and a swing guy goes in there and gives you six innings like that, that’s such a big lift for the club. You hate to go through your bullpen. He saved us in Colorado with four innings of work there, and tonight he saved us. He just did a great job.”
Cain, laughing about his injury and jokingly blaming it on accident-prone teammate Jeremy Affeldt, also couldn’t say enough about the start Petit gave the team.
“He’s a huge asset for us. Obviously when you’ve got a guy like that in your bullpen it’s nice to have him, because if the starters do get in trouble, he’s able to come in and pick you up. Today, he really paid off when I wasn’t even able to go out and pitch, he comes in and goes six strong. Just really good. He’s done that a ton for us.”
For his part, Petit says that a last-minute start isn’t much different than coming out of the bullpen, and he was just prepared to help his team in whatever way he could.
“That’s my job. Long-reliever, that’s my role this year, and I’m prepared anytime for that…I’ve done it before when I played for the Diamondbacks, so that’s normal for me.”
Just for good measure, the Giants added one more run in the fifth when Morse reached on an error by Jace Peterson, moved to third on a single by Sandoval, was replaced by pinch-runner Juan Perez, and came home to score on a Sanchez sacrifice fly.
San Francisco looks to take the series Wednesday night when they send Tim Hudson (3-1, 2.19) to the mound to face Robbie Erlin (1-3, 6.35).