‘McClutchen’ scores walk-off single after Strickland blown save
Tuesday night must have felt like déjà vu for the Giants early on. The Diamondbacks followed a strategy eerily similar to the one that netted them a win just one day prior: strike early offensively and baffle batters with nasty breaking balls. And it nearly worked again.
After enduring nine swing-and-miss strikeouts on Monday night at the hands of D’Back starter Zack Godley and his crafty curveball, San Francisco (5-5) appeared to be equally mystified by lefty Patrick Corbin‘s slider. This time though, San Francisco figured out Corbin (ND, 2-0, 2.45 ERA) and the Arizona bullpen and finally found some big hits, including an Andrew McCutchen walk-off single in the ninth for a 5-4 win.
Before he left with one out in the sixth, Corbin punched out nine San Francisco batters, six of them on his slider and one on his curve.
It was more than just the breaking ball blues early for the orange and black, though. The Diamondbacks (8-3) repeated the first-inning offensive magic that has served them so well in 2018 thus far.
Tyler Beede (ND, 0-0, 4.50 ERA), making his big league debut in front of the hometown crowd, endured a first inning much like the one suffered by Derek Holland Monday. Both Beede and Holland recorded a quick first out and ended up allowing batters two and three, Ketel Marté and Paul Goldschmidt, to score before escaping the inning.
In the rookie’s case, he walked Marte, served Goldschmidt a fastball that was grounded to center field for a single and allowed an AJ Pollock double to left field to score Goldschmidt and Marté.
Like Holland, Beede would not give up any additional runs, lasting four innings, striking out three and allowing just three hits and the two runs, though he struggled walking five and hitting the strike zone just 45 times in 87 throws. But unlike Holland the Giants managed to provide him some run support, albeit following his departure.
Reyes Moronta came in to pitch scoreless fifth and sixth innings, giving up no hits and striking out three.
The Giants finally got to Corbin in the sixth inning.
Gorkys Hernández, pinch-hitting for Moronta, led off with a line drive single to center and nabbed second base from Corbin with Austin Jackson batting. Jackson then knocked a grounder to short legging it out for a single. Brandon Belt kept the line moving by singling to left to load the bases. Then McCutchen came to the plate, and with 37,869 people on their feet he milked nine pitches and took a walk to get San Francisco on the board.
Buster Posey followed with a sacrifice fly to right sending Jackson home and moving Belt to third. Evan Longoria, who continues to struggle at the plate (4-for-32 on the season), drew his own walk chasing Corbin from the game.
Arizona bench coach Jerry Narron, managing Diamondbacks Tuesday in light of manager Torey Lovullo’s suspension for an on-field altercation with Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina in St. Louis on Sunday, put righty Fernando Salas in the game to face Hunter Pence.
Pence took Salas deep to left, but not quite deep enough. His sac-fly did score Belt to give the Giants the 3-2 lead and brought Brandon Crawford to the plate.
The shortstop hit a line drive single to left and McCutchen was ruled safe at the plate while Longoria was tagged out at third on a late attempt at taking the base. But Narron requested a replay and the play at the plate was overturned, limiting the Giants lead to 3-2 to end the inning.
Reliever Josh Osich started the seventh inning by giving up back-to-back doubles to right field to Jarrod Dyson and Marté to knot things up before being pulled for Cory Gearrin. Gearrin stopped the bleeding and got the Giants off the field with no further damage.
In the eighth, McCutchen worked a one out free-pass ahead of a Posey ground ball single to center. With Longoria at the plate McCutchen and Posey initiated a double-steal. Longoria swung and missed for strike three while catcher Alex Avila tried to gun down Posey, the trailing runner, at second, but he airmailed the throw into center field allowing McCutchen to score. The Giants were unable cash in any more runs in the inning though, and the singular “run-thrown-in” would not be sufficient to shut the Diamondbacks down for good.
Hunter Strickland (W, 1-0, 1.50 ERA) came in to close the door in the ninth. But after recording two quick outs he allowed Goldschmidt to resoundingly kick it open, launching a solo homer (1) to center field and handing Strickland his first run and blown save of the season.
McCutchen, a consistent hero in the Giants clubhouse as of late, picked up his closer in the bottom of the ninth, though.
The speedy Kelby Tomlinson drew a walk to open the inning. Hernandez then dropped a sac-bunt to move Tomlinson to second. After reliever Jorge De La Rosa (L, 0-1, 3.00 ERA) fell behind Jackson 2-0, Narron opted for an intentional walk. This brought up Belt who drew yet another walk, the Giants’ seventh base on balls of the game, to load the bases and bring McCLUTCHen — err McCutchen — to the plate.
McCutchen described the moment after the game:
“You know I was in the dugout as the game was going on — one walk and another — and I was just sitting there like, ‘This is about to happen again.’ Just trying not to psych myself out, but in a sense just getting pumped and excited because that chance was possible and then it happened and I was able to come through.”
The right fielder took the first pitch he saw from De La Rosa and launched it to right field for a single to score Tomlinson and give the Giants the win.
Of clutch situations McCutchen said:
“They’re rare, you don’t get the opportunity a whole lot, and when you do you’re not always going to come through. I definitely love those situations because those are lasting impressions that you’re leaving on fans, on teammates on everyone so its always good its always cool.”
Lately for McCutchen, they haven’t been quite so rare, though. Saturday he had the pleasure of knocking a three-run walk-off homer out to center field to end a 14-inning marathon of a game against the Dodgers.
— Julie Parker (@jpwhatsername) April 11, 2018
One teammate left with an indelible impression from McCutchen’s performance was the rookie starter Beede, who was bubbling with admiration for his new teammate in the wake of his major league debut:
“Gosh he’s ‘Clutch’ man. Obviously he’s earned that name over the past five days. Just for this to be my first major league game and for him to end it in walk-off fashion — its incredible. [There are] so many emotions going through my mind right now, but obviously he’s an incredible player.”
Manager Bruce Bochy, impressed by McCutchen, was also impressed by Beede. Of his young arm the skipper commented:
“He battled for four innings. Worked hard [and threw] a lot of pitches, but he did keep the game close and gave us a chance.”
Posey (.375) continued an eight-game hitting streak going 2-for-3 in the second game of the three-game series with Arizona. … The Giants win Tuesday was the franchise’s 200th win against the Diamondbacks.