An identical San Francisco lineup to one no-hit through five innings the night before — a batting order that had been slumping offensively for the better part of six weeks — looked like a completely different set of nine Friday night.
This version of the Giants (58-59) scored 13 runs on 16 hits off bats up and down the lineup in the second game of four against Pittsburgh (60-57). And, with the outbreak of offense, a shaky bullpen threatened to ruin a handy victory, allowing eight runs in the final third of the game.
In the end, a baker’s dozen was enough to hold Pittsburgh off and snap a three-game losing streak with a 13-10 victory over Clay Holmes (L, 1-2, 7.20 ERA) offering San Francisco a box score that could be read as both encouraging and concerning.
San Francisco came out swinging, chasing Holmes after just 2-2/3 innings, with the top of the order instrumental early. The Giants rocked Holmes for seven runs on eight hits, much stewarded by four veterans — Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford — whom Bruce Bochy parked in the 1-2-3-4 holes after a four-game losing streak July 29. This catalyzed a four-game winning streak, but after that, the Giants slid back into the mire, going 1-5.
Friday they crawled out of their hole and spent the bottom halves of nine innings performing as a team in lockstep. As such, the first inning must have given whiplash to fans who had seen the Giants get routed the night before.
Holmes nearly hit McCutchen leading off, and “Cutch” returned the favor with his 13th home run of the year into the arcade. It was his ninth career leadoff homer, and the fifth time the Giants have led off a game by going yard.
The not-so-speedy Posey came up right behind him and managed to leg out an infield single to lead off a rally that saw seven more batters come to the plate. That number would be eclipsed in a later inning, a concept that would have been difficult to believe going into Friday’s contest. Posey’s single would be the first of four hits he would record in the first four innings, setting a record as the first Giant in the San Francisco era to do it.
“They had good at-bats, got in hitter’s counts and took advantage of it. They were letting it go tonight and it was good to see them have some success. We’ve been shut down, we’ve been due for a game like this where we break it open.”
Posey took second base on a wild pitch and a Longoria fielder’s choice grounder to second moved Posey to third. Crawford next took the first of two walks on the night and with runners at first and third Austin Slater knocked a single to right, scoring Posey.
Two runs seemed like more than enough to ask of a team in the first inning that had been pressing as hard as the Giants of late. But Alen Hanson, who has come up in the clutch pretty regularly for San Francisco, decided they weren’t done, swatting another single to right to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.
Holland (W, 6-8, 3.97 ERA) tossed a quiet first, but allowed a double and a single in the second, to get the Pirates on the board 3-1. A subdued home half of the second seemed to indicate that there was nothing out of whack with the universe, but the Giants put together an onslaught in the third that perhaps even they weren’t expecting, bringing 10 batters to the plate and tacking on four more runs.
The Giants led off with a Slater walk before Joe Panik singled, bringing up Holland. Far from being an easy out, he notched his third hit on the season with a single to center to load the bases for McCutchen. Holmes pitched McCutchen inside, nearly hitting him a second time, and the former Pirate returned the kindness yet again, this time by drawing a walk to force in a run. After Posey singled, the Pirates put Holmes out of his misery, replacing him with Casey Sadler.
Sadler, it turned out, would be the sacrificial lamb for the Bucs in game two of this series. A Longoria single and walks to Crawford and Slater added up to the fourth run of the inning before finally Sadler got his team off the field with a score of 7-1.
Sadler got further shelled in the fourth inning and Pirates manager Clint Hurdle hung him out to dry as he allowed two singles, two doubles, a walk and three more runs, and allowed a fourth run in the fifth putting the Pirates in a very deep, 11-3 hole.
But that was very nearly not enough. After Holland was pulled with one out in the seventh and men on first and second, he was replaced by Pierce Johnson, who promptly walked the bases full to bring up Francisco Cervelli. With a 2-2 count, Cervelli launched a fastball over the left field wall for his fourth career grand slam and his 11th homer on the year to make it 11-7.
Said Bochy of Johnson’s difficult inning:
“Johnson just got behind[and] had a really a long at-bat there when he walked the hitter, [then] before the grand slam he got behind.”
Johnson allowed two more singles before being pulled for Sam Dyson, who got the Giants out of the inning.
The Bucs put former Giant Kyle Crick on the mound to pitch the seventh inning and he was wild, plunking Longoria on the back with a 97-mph fastball to lead off the inning. This elicited an emotional response from Longoria and the Giants dugout, not because they believed intent, but they felt it was unsafe for a guy to be throwing fire when he was struggling with command to the extent that Crick was.
When a guy’s throwing that hard and he really doesn’t have an idea of where its going — I mean Joey almost gets hit, and a couple other guys [get] brushed back — and obviously you’re not expecting the guy to throw the ball over the middle of the plate every time, but when a guy’s throwing that hard and he’s throwing it all over, it just doesn’t make for a good situation and you just don’t want to see anybody get hurt.”
The Giants got a small piece of revenge when Hanson doubled to score Longoria, though, making it 12-7.
San Francisco’soffense would produce a full bakers dozen of runs by the eighth inning, tying their season-high against the Cardinals July 8. But Tony Watson and Will Smith would each allow another run before San Francisco closed the game down.
Longoria believes Friday’s outburst can be a jumping off point:
“I think offensively we were able to build some confidence and momentum so that’s kinda where we have to take into tomorrow.”
The Giants and Pirates will play game three of the four-game set Saturday with Ty Blach (6-6, 4.28ERA) toeing the rubber against Trevor Williams (9-8, 3.88 ERA). … The Giants will retire Barry Bonds‘ number, 25, in a ceremony that begins at 5 p.m. Saturday. Guests will include the Bonds family, Peter Magowan, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Willie Mays, Bobby Bonilla, Ray Durham, Robb Nen, Kirk Rueter, Royce Clayton, Will Clark, Eric Davis, Shawon Dunston and Jim Leyland (among others). Gates open at 3:45 p.m.
The Giants called up former top prospect right-handed pitcher Casey Kelly ahead of Friday’s matchup to fill a ‘swing-man’ role as either a starter or reliever. Derek Law was optioned to Triple-A, and Johnny Cueto was transferred to the 60-day DL to make room for Kelly.