Johnny Cueto might like to take one pitch back Sunday. Not a mistake, but a statement– at least, from home plate umpire Doug Eddings’ perspective.
After Phillies starter Aaron Nola plunked Giants batters Buster Posey, Ramiro Peña and Conor Gillaspie — an unwelcome sight for a depleted San Francisco squad — Cueto nailed Philadelphia cleanup batter Maikel Franco with a two-out, none-on retaliation pitch.
Eddings issued warnings to both teams and the game swerved. Cueto the improvisor suddenly had a leash:
“Now I can’t throw in, now I have to keep my pitches outside because if something gets away from me, then I’m going to be thrown out of the game.”
Forced to curb his stuff that had him cruising before that fateful pitch, Cueto unravelled. The Phillies marked Cueto for six runs — the most he’s given up since his six-run collapse in Cincinnati back in early May — before the Giants’ bench salvaged it all with a 8-7 walk-off win, Bruce Bochy’s 800th in a Giants uniform.
Whoever guessed the Phillies would be the team to snap both Madison Bumgarner and Cueto’s dominant earned-run streaks should win some sort of prize. Against Bumgarner, it took one swing of the bat from Cody Asche; against Cueto, it took some mind games.
Nola has struggled of late, lasting no more than 3-2/3 innings in his last four starts. So a few breaking pitches that beaned three Giants players didn’t seem malicious, said Bochy:
“I certainly didn’t think they were throwing at our guys. Buster got hit with a breaking ball. Their kid out there, he’s not trying to hit someone with the bases loaded and I don’t think we were.”
It might have just been bad timing, then, when Cueto’s breaking ball found Franco’s back. Eddings wasted no time warning both clubs. Peña, one of Nola’s victims, was surprised:
“I think everyone was surprised, I don’t think [Nola’s pitches] was the situation to get hit.”
Cueto argued his own case, but it was too late:
“It was not my intention, it was just a pitch that got away from me. It was a pitch that got away from me, a sinker i was trying to throw, but I don’t understand why he gave me a warning when their pitcher hit our guys three times also with a breaking ball.”
That warning pushed Cueto into unfamiliar territory. He couldn’t work inside the plate. If one pitch breaks loose, he’s in hot water.
The Phillies capitalized. Asche worked a walk and Carlos Ruiz and Freddy Galvis cracked back-to-back RBI singles to cut the Giants once comfortable lead to 5-3.
Asche tied it up at 5-5 in the fifth on a two-run RBI single and a go-ahead solo shot from Odubel Herrera capped off Cueto’s six-run outing. Cueto said his approach changed after that warning, and Eddings wasn’t calling some strikes that hit outside:
“They were strikes. He gave me those pitches earlier in the game but after I hit Franco those strikes changed.”
“He was cruising and we got the warning and it looked like it threw him out of sync there.”
So the burden fell onto the Giants bats, who embraced the spotlight after Saturday night’s false start.
Angel Pagan led the way with a four-hit game, his first since April of last year. His double in the first set up Brandon Crawford’s RBI single to tie the game at 1-1 and knocked in two of his own. His big game capped off an 8-for-13 series against the Phillies.
Pagan’s contributed effortlessly into any role Bochy throws at him lately. Today, he took over the two-hole with a resting Joe Panik on the bench. He’s been clutch since coming off the DL, said Bochy:
“What a series he had and what a game he had today. Just hit after hit, and big hits he had today. He really looks good out there swinging and since he’s come back he’s been swinging the bat very well.”
Philadelphia, though, had an answer for nearly every attempt the Giants took toward victory.
The Phillies had no more room to run in the bottom of the ninth, when Ramiro Peña launched a high fly ball to right field for a double. Peña, thinking it was going foul, ball-watched before making a late hustle to second base. It should have been a triple, Bochy said later.
Conor Gillaspie made good use of it anyway, pushing in the final run with an easy double to right and securing the Giants’ seventh walk-off win of the season.
The Giants bench, yet again, pulled one out for this ailing team, said Bochy:
“Good for them. It’s all about 25 guys doing something to contribute.”
It was only fitting that Bruce Bochy’s 800th win as a Giant be an anxiety-producing walk-off win, said the skipper:
“Appropriate that it was that kind of game, a torturous game, where it looked like we had it under control and started getting away from us. It’s a good win because that would have been a tough one to take.”
Bochy, who’s been at the helm since 2006, now sits in the winning ranks with John McGraw (2,583), Dusty Baker (840) and Bill Terry (823).
Baker and Terry managed the Giants for 10 years. The great McGraw was at the helm for 30 years, which explains the large margin. Bochy said he feels fortunate to be with this team for so long–he is the longest tenured manager currently active in the National League, he noted:
“I don’t think John McGraw has anything to worry about.”