Posey, Peavy power Giants past Cubs

A minor misstep sent the Giants dugout into a major frenzy when Matt Duffy‘s ankle tangled with Anthony Rizzo‘s leg and first base.

Bruce Bochy‘s overworked wheels started turning: Who could cover for Duffy at third? Brandon Crawford, the only infielder left on the bench, was hurting and Juan Perez was already in the outfield.

This story has been updated with post-game quotes and additional material from the Giants clubhouse.

Gregor Blanco couldn’t take over for Perez on defense due to a side strain that penned him as a pinch hitter only for the night and suddenly the only infield depth option was sitting behind the dish: Buster Posey. He was not ready for that:

“But I woulda done it, I was kinda thinking along with (Bochy) when I saw Duff twist his ankle. I figured it was going to be me or Perez at third so, I’m glad he’s alright.”

Duffy walked off the sprain, and promptly stole second and tagged up third to put minds at ease, especially Posey’s, but picture that for a minute; The Giants attempting a win with Posey at third.

They aren’t quite there, but they’re dang close to the depth’s edge. The team’s core is aboard a disabled list merry-go-round. Yet, they pulled out a scrappy 4-2 win over the Cubs on Wednesday night.

The win was all too unexpected: A starting lineup that featured Kelby Tomlinson, Juan Perez and Ehire Adrianza as the six, seven, eight hitters and a slumping Posey at cleanup put up four runs against a Cubs team that has taken five straight from them.

Said Bochy:

“We’re banged up, but they fought today.”

Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay

The Cubs put up two quick first inning runs and the game was looking all too familiar. But the Giants answered.

Nori Aoki pulled an inside hanger over the Levi’s Landing bricks to leadoff the bottom of the first and cut the Giants’ deficit to 2-1.

Cubs’ starter Kyle Hendricks (L, 6-6, 4.11 ERA) walked the next two batters to load the bases. Addison Russell took a Perez ground ball to second for the force out to end the inning, but Tomlinson had beaten the short throw by a mile and Duffy came in for the tying run. What tonight’s lineup lacked in experience, they made up for in speed, said Posey:

“Kelby deserves a lot of credit for beating that ball at second. Big play.”

The Giants’ starters, in particular, have been shaky through the later innings this month with the exception of Madison Bumgarner. Jake Peavy (W, 4-6, 4.21 ERA), tonight, proved that he’s plenty efficient. He powered past a rough first, dealing just 64 pitches through five innings.

Peavy reached a wall in the seventh, an inning he’s only hurdled once this season, when Chris Denorfia singled and Aoki lost Tommy La Stella‘s ball in the lights, forcing a double. Bruce Bochy came to take the ball and Peavy shouted as he left the mound, Bochy commented:

“He’s such a competitor. He’s gonna leave it all out of the field, that’s who he is. I think this might have been his one of his guttiest efforts … Here he is pitching in the seventh, and it’s something that’s gotta happen at this point … He’s the guy that we had last year.” 

Hunter Strickland struck out Addison Russell and Javy Lopez did some of the same to Kyle Schwarber to end the threat. Two outs that happened in a blink of an eye, as they should at the hand of a lights-out bullpen, said Peavy:

“I was extremely excited we got out of that inning. After the way it played out there for me … Can’t say enough about Javy in that moment. Javy hadn’t been the go-to guy of late, I think we all know that, with the emergence of what Osich has done. Javy hasn’t been in many situations that big, but it’s why we love him.”

As for Peavy, he said he’s only going to get better. He’s been one of the more consistent arms, really, despite what the 4.21 ERA and losing record indicate. He’s taken his team deep into games and, ‘stuff’ wise, never really falls flat. Tonight he was sharp as ever, said Posey:

“Probably as sharp as I’ve seen him this year. Was a big boost there in the sixth when he was able to strike Rizzo out and get Bryant after him.”

That sixth was a tough one. Schwarber led off the inning with a soft groundball single. He moved to second on a Starlin Castro hit and run and to third on a pitch that hit the dirt. He walked Chris Coghlan to follow.

It was no matter, he whiffed Rizzo and forced a Bryant fly out. Said Peavy:

“Seems like if anything can go bad it’s gone bad when I’m out there and tonight we were able to grind through those things.”

San Francisco broke through in the sixth after Brandon Belt hustled out a gutsy double-turned-triple to lead off. Posey, who had just two hits in his last 19 at bats before tonight, broke free with a deep double to the alley to score Belt and give the Giants their first lead over the Cubs since August 8.

“I thought that ball was off the wall when I hit it…I don’t think I’m too far off, hopefully I can keep progressing.”

Tomlinson secured the cushion run with an RBI double that hugged fair territory in right.

So the series is tied, but that doesn’t erase the depth issue. Any injury, infield or outfield, would require some serious Bochy maneuvers. Well Angel Pagan, who went 1-for-4 tonight with Sacramento, is due back with the Giants tomorrow. So the outfield has some room to breathe.

Plus, roster manipulation is Bochy’s thing:

“You like to think it’s more of a challenge, but there are so many moves you can’t make. You have to go with your guys and hope they find a way and they did.”

Notes

The Dodgers also won Wednesday, so the win just keeps the Giants 2-1/2 games back in the West.


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