AT&T PARK — The Giants’ offense since the All-Star break has been stellar, currently ranking first in team batting average (.279) and batting average with runners in scoring position (.317).
Buster Posey may be the face of the offensive resurgence — the last 16 games the Co-NL Player of the (last) Week hit safely in nearly half his at-bats —but has had a little help from Hunter Pence, Angel Pagan and Joe Panik, who is batting .378 in his last 30 games. He’s the second hottest hitter in the majors right now.
But the Giants didn’t really need their offense in Tuesday night’s 5-1 defeat over the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks.
Arizona’s starting pitcher Wade Miley (2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 SO) dug his team into an early hole. In two innings he allowed five hits, walked in two runs of three and effectively pitched himself out of the game with the Giants up 3-0.
Photos by Godofredo Vasquez/SFBay
That would be all the Giants needed, but Yusmeiro Petit (9 IP, 4H 1 R, 1ER, 9 SO) kept the Diamondbacks’ lineup in check.
Just a year and three days after his near-perfect game, Petit pitched nine strikeouts in nine innings, his first complete game of the season and second of his career. He didn’t walk one single batter and tossed 26 first-pitch strikes to the 29 batters he faced.
Manager Bruce Bochy was impressed with Petit’s command of the strike zone:
“He threw a lot of strikes obviously, with the way he pounded the strike zone. He threw 15-16 balls all night, he had quality strikes … He had a hiccup in Colorado, a lot of pitchers have those, but he’s got command of four pitches and he was hitting the spots tonight.”
Petit allowed just four hits and one solo home run in the fourth inning to Ender Inciarte to give the Diamondbacks their only notch in the runs column.
He said his pitch was simply misplaced:
“I feel better on both sides of the plate. I let one homer go … I missed the spot … I called inside but it stayed in the middle, middle up. I missed the pitch.”
It only took Petit 84 pitches to knock out Arizona’s lineup — no pitcher in the majors this season has used so few in a complete game. Bill Swift was the last Giants pitcher to pitch a complete game with less than 90 pitches — 85 to be exact — back in 1993.
Petit added on to his day of firsts with his first hit of the season, a soft single down the middle.
The early-inning walk-a-thon was enough to seal a San Francisco win, but the offense didn’t hesitate to flash their stuff and tacked on an extra two runs in the sixth.
Panik went 5-for-5, a career high for the rookie who said he couldn’t remember the last time he’d hit safely in every at bat. The last Giants rookie to get five hits was Fred Lewis back in 2007. But, unlike Lewis and the ’07 Giants, Panik is getting hot with a team that is blazing a clear trail to the playoffs.
Said Bochy of Panik’s development:
“He’s got a simple swing. Great balance at the plate. He’s not a power guy, but he’s got a nice knack for getting the barrel on the ball … He’s a contact guy, line drive guy, who uses the whole field. That’s a perfect type of hitter for the two-hole. But part of it is having the confidence to play up here, which he got right away. Three or four games into it seemed like he settled in.”
Panik says his confidence comes from being around veteran winners:
“Honestly being in the clubhouse with guys that have been through a playoff race, winning two World Series. When you step up in the lineup you know you’re just another link in the chain, so you don’t put to much pressure on yourself.”
Gregor Blanco, who had two hits of his own Tuesday, interjected with his own brief, but telling exclamation about the rookie’s chemistry with the team:
“Love you Joe!”
The Los Angeles Dodgers lost to the San Diego Padres 6-3 tonight, putting the Giants just 2-1/2 games behind in the NL West. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers all lost, putting San Francisco up by four games in the Wild Card standings.
The Giants (79-65) continue their series against Arizona (59-85) Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. at AT&T Park.