In what has been the lowest point of the Giants season, Chris Stratton provided a much-needed injection of positivity.
The Giants starter pulled off two impressive feats Friday night. He shut out a Colorado club that had won nine of 12 games in September, knocking their division lead to a slim half-game over the Dodgers. He also ended the Giants longest losing streak since 1951 and longest since moving to San Francisco — an 11-game skid that had encompassed all of September.
Stratton (W, 10-9, 4.66 ERA) tossed his first career shutout, giving up just two hits and striking out seven leading the Giants (69-79) to a 2-0 victory over the division-leading Rockies (81-66).
Manager Bruce Bochy planned to let Stratton finish the game as soon as the eighth inning ended. He joked that his teammates may have given him mixed signals:
“My worry was, I saw all the guys high-five him after the eighth. I didn’t want him to think he was done. I didn’t think he was done. His stuff was still there.”
Bochy’s confidence in his starter stemmed from Stratton’s near-flawless control of the game:
“All four quadrants he worked, I thought, well. He mixed in the changeup, occasional slider, curveball. Good, rising life to the fastball, and he spotted it very well tonight.”
Veteran outfielder Gregor Blanco was also impressed with the young righty’s performance:
“He was really aggressive today. He was pounding the zone, getting guys 0-2 pretty quick. I think he did a great job of putting the fastball in the top of the zone, making them chase.”
The sparse offense came courtesy of Austin Slater, who drove in Nick Hundley and Joe Panik with a single in the second inning. The two run-scorers also combined for four of the Giants’ seven hits on the night.
Colorado’s Tyler Anderson (L, 7-8, 4.82 ERA) pitched what would usually be a winning outing, considering how potent the Rockies offense is. He allowed just two runs on seven hits while striking out six over six innings. He actually lowered his ERA by 0.07 points.
His tough-luck loss is exactly what was so special about Stratton’s night.
Stratton was happy that he contributed to the elusive win, but he also acknowledged how much it meant to him personally:
“There’s been some times where I’ve come out of the ‘pen and finished a game, but this was definitely one for the record books for me.”
It seems every great pitching performance has at least one equally impressive defensive play to accompany it. Blanco provided that in the sixth, sprinting to the warning track in left to rob a golfed line drive off the bat of third baseman Nolan Arenado. The catch not only took away an extra base hit, but it likely saved a run from scoring with just one out.
Bochy thinks it’s a luxury to have someone with Blanco’s ability play a corner outfield spot:
“He’s a gifted outfielder. He’s a center fielder out there playing left field.”
There may have also been some Panda magic at work today. Bochy said before the game that Pablo Sandoval was extra bubbly:
“Pablo was fired up to be down here. He said he’s gonna help us get out this today, somehow, someway.”
Maybe he gave Stratton some kung fu lessons prior to first pitch.
Madison Bumgarner (5-6, 3.30 ERA) takes the mound Saturday against German Márquez (12-9, 3.94 ERA) as the Giants look to knock Colorado off the NL West’s first-place perch.
Aside from the 11-game losing streak, the Giants also snapped a seven-game losing streak to Colorado. … The win improved their record against N.L. West teams to 34-31, their only winning record versus any division in baseball.