Giants slug their way to World Series doorstep
AT&T PARK — Relatively speaking, Game Four of the NLCS was a slugfest.
Wednesday saw one home run — a solo shot from St. Louis Cardinals lefty Kolten Wong — but a slew of big hits from both sides ended in yet another unconventional win for the Giants, a 6-4 triumph that puts San Francisco one game away from the World Series.
San Francisco entered the sixth inning down 4-3. A walk by Juan Perez to start the inning turned productive with Brandon Crawford‘s first single of the series. Matt Duffy, pinch hitting for Yusmeiro Petit, laid down a beautiful bunt to move Perez and Crawford into scoring position.
Gregor Blanco hit a dribbler off Marco Gonzalez (L, 0-1, 9.00 ERA) down the first base line, and a late throw home in the dirt from Matt Adams gave the speedy Perez just enough time to score safely for the tie.
And the Giants kept clawing back. Adams would fudge another play in the Giants’ favor: His throw for a double play off Joe Panik‘s ground ball pulled Jhonny Peralta off the bag at second, allowing Crawford to scamper home for the Giants’ first lead of the game at 5-4.
Posey gave the Giants three RBI’s on two singles in the teams’ 11 hit campaign. Three of the Giants’ runs were scored with two outs, the others on those weird plays. Posey said of the offense’s play:
“Yeah, we still found a way to score a couple of weird ones there, too. … I can speak as a catcher, you are really wanting to bear down there and get out of that inning. Sometimes, like I said, those two-out RBIs, can be big in shifting momentum.”
Those two out RBIs didn’t come until the later innings. The Giants, first, with some small-ball.
In the first inning, to answer an early 1-0 Cardinals lead, Joe Panik continued his stellar, but quiet postseason showing with a big single to right before Buster Posey smashed a sac fly to bring home Blanco from third.
San Francisco struck again in the third when Buster Posey hit his 12th single of the postseason to score Joaquin Arias, who had pinch-hit for Ryan Vogelsong. Pablo Sandoval walked and Hunter Pence hit a first pitch single down the middle to score Posey, cutting the Cards lead to 4-3.
Seven out of the nine Giants starters got at least one hit. The offense needed to be hot tonight, because Ryan Vogelsong was not.
He tried a new pre-game dinner, spaghetti as opposed to enchiladas. On an enchilada diet, Vogelsong pitched four postseason games and allowed a measly four earned runs. He never lost either and, coming into tonight’s game, was boasting a 1.59 ERA for the 2014 postseason.
After his spaghetti, Vogelsong gave up four runs in just three innings and only struck out one batter. The Cardinals were on his pitches and dominating the counts. He dealt 44 pitches by the end of his outing. Manager Bruce Bochy said Vogey was just missing his spots this time around:
“He was a little up…You know, it’s kind of a rough start for him. The first ball hit looked like it hit the lip (of Sandoval’s glove) and ends up getting a double on that ball. Gregor just missed getting to the other ball. I said this earlier, that Vogey, he’s probably had some tough luck, and that added to some missed spots that he had tonight.”
The Giants bullpen shut down a Cardinals offense that was itching to put runs on the board after Tuesday’s game was decided by a single 10th-inning error.
Bochy kept the bullpen on its tight leash. Petit (W, 1-0, 0.00 ERA) only gave up one hit and struck out four in his three inning outing. The quickly alternating lefty-on-lefty and righty-on-righty matchups cooled the Cardinals down to a low simmer. They didn’t score again.
The Giants can seal their third trip to the World Series in five years with a win Thursday, where aces Madison Bumgarner (2-1, 0.76 ERA) and Adam Wainwright (0-1, 8.00 ERA) will reprise their Game 1 matchup.
Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny said after the game that, should the Cardinals tie up the series, Yadier Molina will be back in the squat. … Gregor Blanco faced Randy Choate again in the fourth inning and drew a walk, but not without a little humor. He showed bunt on the first pitch with no one on base and said, “I was just trying to get in his head, because yesterday I bunt the ball, and it made all the things happen.”