Derek Holland came out swinging against Arizona Monday night, striking out the first four batters he faced.
That start presented what looked like it was going to be yet another AT&T Park pitcher’s duel as Arizona righty Zack Godley (L, 5-5, 5.12 ERA) showed up with the same stuff he had against the Giants on April 9, when he threw seven shutout innings.
In the fourth inning, however, what started as a pitcher’s duel erupted, resulting in what was ultimately a hitting clinic put on by San Francisco (30-30) ending in a 10-3 win over the Diamondbacks (31-28) to the delight of the 36,542 fans in attendance.
Each of the first three Arizona batters in the fourth inning drew 3-2 counts from Holland (ND, 3-6, 4.91 ERA), and Paul Goldschmidt, who has struggled all season, led it off with a single to left.
A batter later, Holland walked Jake Lamb then allowed a double to left off the bat of Ketel Marte to clear the bases. Holland escaped with no further damage, but given the fact that the Giants had scored just 14 runs combined in the six games they played against the D-Backs in April, and the stuff Godley had brought into the first three innings, the two-spot had to be cause for concern in the Giants dugout.
But all worries were assuaged within six pitches of the home half of the fourth. Andrew McCutchen led off and parked a 2-1 low, middle-in sinker over the red Chevron car in left field for a leadoff solo blast (5) to get the Giants on the board. Brandon Crawford came up right behind him and parked a nearly identical 1-0 sinker over the Yahoo Sports sign in left-center for a matching dinger (7) to tie it up.
But like their offensive explosion against the Phillies in the sixth inning of Sunday’s game, in which they plated five runs, the Giants were just getting started with Godley.
With a tie game, against a team that had shut them down so methodically in April, manager Bruce Bochy had to make a tough decision for the second game in a row, to take his starter out early in a bid to get the team ahead.
Bochy said the decision came down to the bat:
“It s always tough to take your starter out, [but] the way he swings the bat I had no choice. I was kidding him about it, I said, ‘Once you get the batting average up to .200 I’ll let you hit there.'”
Kidding was something that came freely after what happened next.
Bochy opted to pinch-hit Alen Hanson, and in an 0-2 count Hanson spoiled several good pitches before sending a screamer down the third baseline to score Sandoval and Pence, move Herández to third and give the Giants a 4-2 lead.
“He found a way to get a big hit there for us. That got the ball rolling for us and we kept the line moving. That was a big inning, that was the ballgame there.”
After a Salas wild pitch that scored Hernández and a two-run single from Buster Posey three more Giants hitters would come to the plate, making the grand total 12. The Giants would lead 7-2 by the time the inning was over.
The San Francisco bullpen then rose to the occasion for the five innings that followed, continuing a 2018 trend that seemed unthinkable in recent memory, dating as far back as 2014.
Reyes Moronta came through with a flawless fifth inning, striking out two. The righty from the Dominican Republic has been quietly one of the best arms in the Giants bullpen, boasting an ERA of 1.33 he has 31 strikeouts in 27 innings pitched.
Pierce Johnson (W, 3-2, 5.83 ERA) tossed scoreless sixth and seventh innings, earning the decision. And while Cory Gearrin struggled through the eighth allowing a pair of singles and a walk, he escaped the inning giving up just one run.
Ty Blach, in his new role out of the bullpen, closed out the ninth without incident.
The Giants added a trio of insurance runs, including a fifth-inning homer (3) from Sandoval and a pinch-hit home run (6) from Nick Hundley for good measure in the eighth.
The Giants will play the second of three games against the Diamondbacks Tuesday. This, their 61st game of 2018, will be the season debut for San Francisco’s ace thoroughbred Madison Bumgarner. He is scheduled to face Diamondbacks southpaw Patrick Corbin (5-2, 2.99 ERA) who the Giants have struggled against both times they faced him in April. Corbin struck out nine Giants in 5-1/3 innings on April 10 and threw a one-hit complete game shutout of the Giants on April 17.
Perhaps the most excited Giant to see Bumgarner back on the field save the big lefty himself is his battery mate.
After Sunday’s game against the Phillies, Posey said:
“I’m excited to catch him, I told him today I was looking forward to catching him. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to work with him much the last couple years, so it’ll be good to get back out there.”
The Skipper added to the sentiment:
“It’s gonna be exciting to have him back, he’s our guy — along with Johnny [Cueto] — and we missed him, no question about it. We’re a better club with him.”
The First-Year Player Draft began Monday afternoon and the Giants selected catcher Joey Bart out of Georgia Tech with the second overall pick. In the second round (45th overall) they selected Sean Hjelle, a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher out of the University of Kentucky. Hjelle, a towering 6-foot-11 and 190 pounds, went 7-5 with a 3.44 ERA in 15 starts for Kentucky. The Giants expect that he will be a starting pitcher.
Giants Scouting Director John Barr was effusive with praise for the team’s selections:
“We’re really ecstatic to be able to get two guys that we think can contribute to the Giants here.”
Bruce Bochy confirmed ahead of Monday’s game that after his successful start Sunday against the Phillies, rookie Dereck Rodriguez will remain in the rotation. … Reliever D.J. Snelten was picked up on waivers by the Baltimore Orioles after being outrighted to make way for Rodriguez. … With Monday’s win against Arizona, the Giants are back at .500 for the first time since May 20 and have one more win than the Dodgers who are 29-30. They are just 1.5 games out of first place in the NL West in time to get Bumgarner back Tuesday, which may be as close to a clean slate as a team can get in the third month of the season.
“That’s not a mark we strive for, but the when you’re below it, it’s always good to get back there.”
The Giants optioned reliever Pierce Johnson to Triple-A Sacramento after Monday’s game to clear roster space for Madison Bumgarner.