Battle of NL’s worsts goes Giants way

AT&T Park sold out to watch the two teams with the lowest winning percentages in the National League — Giants at .393 and Phillies at .364 — play baseball. In return, those two teams put together something competitive, dare say, entertaining.

An idiotic Giants fan even decided to run across the outfield with his team occupying all three bases and Jarrett Parker up to bat in a one-run game. He hit an inning-ending grounder to short, but San Francisco still won 5-4 over Philadelphia.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Yes, Thursday’s “sellout” (announced, at least) is especially surprising given the lack of excitement surrounding both teams. Giants fans generally still like to watch this team play, which is admirable. The fans’ show of commitment seemed timely given manager Bruce Bochy’s message before the game.

Christian Arroyo, the Giants announced, will be shut down for the rest of the season with a broken hand. Bochy hushed the idea that someone like Brandon Belt — out with his fourth-career concussion — would have a similar fate. Austin Slater, out since July 8 with a groin strain, is taking swings in the cage, hopeful for a September return. Johnny Cueto will throw a 30-40 pitch bullpen tomorrow.

August is ending and postseason is nearing. Teams with winning records, those in the hunt, run through AT&T Park zeroed in on the series as a quick stepladder, a means of gaining separation or to close one. But this hopeless Giants team is playing with a purpose, Bochy asserted. The players will show what they’ve got going.

They managed to do that Thursday.

Aaron Nola came to San Francisco having not allowed more than two runs in his previous 10 games — the first Phillies pitcher to do so since the 1800’s — and the Giants put up five against him in 5 innings.

One RBI came courtesy of Hunter Pence, who’s bumped his average from .243 to .256, running a .344 average since July 30. He’s found his swing, said Bochy:

“He’s just making more consistent contact and staying in strike zone.”

Pence can’t be stopped, he won’t be stopped. Not even Denard Span‘s hesitant base-running on Jarrett Parker‘s booming RBI double wouldn’t slow him down; he ran up on Span’s heels, yelling “You got to go!” as the pair rounded third and crossed home about a half-second apart. Span didn’t even hear him, crowd blaring and adrenaline rushing:

“I just knew he was right on my heels. ….I did not hear him I could just feel him. It was fun. I’ve never had anyone chase me around the base paths before.”

All kidding aside, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford each notched RBI’s along with Parker’s two-run hit giving Jeff Samardzija a whopping four-run lead by the sixth.

Samardzija played too much with that advantage. Cameron Rupp homered on a fastball over the plate to put the Phillies on the board in the fifth and Nick Williams went deep in the sixth.

Williams ignited a three-hit, two-run rally rubbed only by Kelby Tomlinson‘s spectacular double-play-turning stop of Tommy Joseph‘s run-scoring double play.

Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland and Sam Dyson combined for three shutout innings to preserve the win. The bullpen’s 2.57 ERA is baseball’s sixth-best in August. And behold: a one-run lead not squandered. Defense and the ‘pen saved the day, said Span:

“That’s how it’s supposed to work.”

Up next

Matt Moore, running on a two-run outing against Washington, will face Zach Eflin Friday night in game two of this four-game series.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.