When the San Francisco Giants acquired Mike Leake from Cincinnati, he brought the reputation of fierce competitor with a successful cutter-sinker combination, a champion’s intensity, and a productive bat.
All were on display Sunday afternoon in the Giants’ (75-68) 10-3 victory over the NL West rival San Diego Padres (67-77).
With six strong innings of work — and one huge swing — Leake (10-8, 3.72 ERA) collected his first win in San Francisco, while Padres starter Odrisamer Despaigne (5-9, 5.79 ERA) was saddled with the loss.
After the game, Giants manager Bruce Bochy addressed the complete game of his starter:
“He (Leake) has pitched well enough to have a few wins, you know, we’ve had a hard time scoring runs for him but (today) he took that upon himself.”
Leake had been 0-3 through his first five starts as a Giant despite three strong outings. Sunday, he got off to a vexing start, surrendering a booming triple on the game’s second pitch. Padres third baseman Yangervis Solarte hammered the changeup, which drifted high.
Three batters later, with two out and a run in, Padres left fielder Justin Upton crushed a poorly located changeup for a triple of his own. First baseman Brett Wallace brought in Upton on a check-swing bloop double later for an early 2-0 Friars lead.
Leake began to move away from the changeup, but it wasn’t until after a 3-2 sinker to rookie center fielder Travis Jankowski yielded a deep homer to right – the first of his career – that Leake really settled in.
The starter discussed his early-game control problems:
“I was kind of up in the zone in those first couple innings… I just had to be a bit (finer) with my pitches.”
To which catcher Buster Posey added:
“I thought he settled in. He made an adjustment to get on top the ball a little bit… Hopefully he can keep the momentum (through the rest of the season.”
Leake’s grandest contribution, however, came with a bat, not a ball, in his hand.
With two down and a run already on the board in the second inning, Leake took a monstrous swing at a first-pitch fastball and launched it into the seats in right-center. Though the four runs proved to be sufficient for the victory, Bochy’s Boys continued to pile on.
On the strength of run-scoring hits from center fielder Angel Pagan, third baseman Matt Duffy and Posey, along with a sacrifice fly from right fielder Marlon Byrd, the Giants added six more on pairs in the fifth, seventh and eighth frames.
It was Pagan that inspired the most attention, though. With a career-high three stolen bases, the 34-year old scored three times.
The skipper pointed to the leadoff man’s health:
“Great game for Angel. Three stolen bases, he swung the bat well. He’s healthy, and he’s a different player when he’s healthy … He feels good right now and he’d playing great ball.”
Pagan, who has battled health problems all season, has during the last two weeks posted a .302 average — .265 for the season — and added his only two homers of 2015.
Along with Pagan, as well as Posey, infielder Ehire Adrianza has also began to put it together with the bat over the past week. With four hits, including an RBI single in front of Leake’s homer, Adrianza has added 10 points to his batting average (now .178) over the weekend series.
The star-studded defense used fantastic glove work to take six potential hits off the board for the Padres.
With a total of 27 runs scored over the weekend, along with dominant pitching and defense, the Giants will look to carry momentum into their three-gamer against the Reds starting Monday. Game 1 will feature 40-year-old Tim Hudson (7-8, 4.51 ERA) in one of his final career starts against Reds’ Keyviius Sampson (2-4, 6.94 ERA).
With a 4-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Los Angeles Dodgers maintained their 7-1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West standings. The Chicago Cubs, however, dropped a game to the lowly Philadelphia Phillies, 7-4, and have fallen back to the same 7-1/2-game advantage shared by the Giants for the second NL Wild Card spot.