Giants Use Small Ball to Beat Diamondbacks

Giants Diamondbacks

Giants 1, Diamondbacks 0

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 29 — A pitchers’ duel between Alex Wood and Merrill Kelly turned into a tense relief battle. However, small ball prevailed, and the normally homer-heavy San Francisco Giants used it to defeat the Arizona Diamondbacks, 1–0, Wednesday night.

Kelly and Wood exchanged zeros through the first five innings. The top of the first was 1-2-3, but the bottom of the first drew 25 pitches from Kelly. With one out, he hit left fielder Kris Bryant with a pitch. A follow-up walk to catcher Buster Posey put two on for shortstop Brandon Crawford. After he flied to center, third baseman Evan Longoria grounded into an inning-ending 6–4 force play.

Kelly escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third. Bryant led off with a called strikeout, but walks by Posey and Longoria sandwiched a Crawford single. This loaded the bases for first baseman Wilmer Flores. He hit the ball hard, but it went straight to left fielder Daulton Varsho, so no run scored. The inning ended on a called third strike that center fielder Mike Yastrzemski did not at all agree with.

The Diamondbacks threatened in the top of the fifth. Third baseman Ildemaro Vargas reached on a fielding error by Longoria. When center fielder Jake McCarthy followed with a grounder to second, the Giants initially appeared to turn a half-inning-ending double play. However, replay revealed that McCarthy beat out the relay, so the Diamondbacks still had life. Shortstop Geraldo Perdomo singled, putting runners on first and second. However, Kelly could not help his own cause, watching a called third strike go by for the third out.

Relievers Take Over, Giants Take Lead over Diamondbacks

Taylor Widener took over for Kelly in the bottom of the sixth with the game still scoreless. He sat the Giants down in order, as Flores struck out looking, Yastrzemski grounded to second, and second baseman Donovan Solano flied to center. Wood exited the game in the top of the seventh in favor of Dominic Leone. Diamondbacks first baseman Christian Walker welcomed him to the game with a single to right, but a double-play groundout by Perdomo erased it. McCarthy struck out to end the top of the seventh.

The Giants broke the deadlock in the bottom of the seventh. Tommy La Stella led off with a pinch-single. The speedy Steven Duggar took over as a pinch-runner. After he stole second, LaMonte Wade Jr. advanced him to third with a sacrifice bunt. That brought up Bryant, who plated Duggar with a sacrifice fly despite a nice throw from right fielder Henry Ramos.

In the bottom of the eighth, the Giants had a tremendous opportunity to extend the lead. A pair of two-out singles by Yastrzemski and Solano put runners on the corners for Duggar. He put a charge into the crowd with a deep fly to left. A highlight-reel leaping catch by Varsho robbed Duggar of a home run and kept the Diamondbacks only one run behind. It ultimately was academic, as Camilo Doval pitched a perfect ninth to notch his second save in as many nights.

Postgame Reflections

Manager Torey Lovullo said of Kelly, “I thought early on he had trouble finding rhythm (but) did a really nice job of getting out of that first inning without giving up any runs. Then he caught a little tailwind. He started making some pitches. It looked like he was having trouble commanding his fastball early in that first inning. (But he) did a nice job landing some pitches and making quality pitches when he had to. He had his back against the wall a couple of times (but) made some quality pitches that kept the score 0–0.”

The Diamondbacks had four hits, a hit batsman, and had two more runners reach on errors. However, three of those baserunners were erased by a double play. Lovullo said, “The margins between a win and a loss are very small. Unfortunately, Merrill couldn’t get a bunt down (to) advance runners to second and third with one out and give us a chance with one of our best hitters to come up and break the game open. That resulted in an inning-ending double play. We had a couple of opportunities, and we couldn’t take advantage of it. They did take advantage of the one they had. Like I said, that’s the difference between a win and a loss. In these games against the type of pitching that we saw tonight, you’ve got to win those margins.”

Looking Ahead

The Giants (104–54) now have the most wins in a season since they moved to San Francisco in 1958. They are two shy of the franchise record, set in 1904 when the New York Giants went 106–47. With the Los Angeles Dodgers’ comeback win over the San Diego Padres, the Giants retain their two-game lead in the NL West.

The Diamondbacks (50–108), trying to avoid the worst record in franchise history, still need two wins to do so. They will try to stave off the sweep Thursday night in Madison Bumgarner’s first San Francisco start in front of fans. Bumgarner (7–10, 4.58 ERA) will be the Diamondbacks starter against Giants lefty Scott Kazmir (0–1, 4.09 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 pm Pacific.

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Players/managers mentioned:

Alex Wood, Merrill Kelly, Kris Bryant, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Evan Longoria, Wilmer Flores, Daulton Varsho, Mike Yastrzemski, Ildemaro Vargas, Jake McCarthy, Geraldo Perdomo, Taylor Widener, Donovan Solano, Dominic Leone, Christian Walker, Tommy La Stella, Steven Duggar, LaMonte Wade Jr., Henry Ramos, Camilo Doval, Torey Lovullo, Madison Bumgarner, Scott Kazmir