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With pitching, crisp defense, just enough runs and by taking advantage of their opponents mistakes to win in the late innings … the Diamondbacks beat the Giants at their game.
The Arizona Diamondbacks won two of three in extra innings against the Giants at AT&T Park with alert play after the 7th that the Giants lacked, showing fight, focus and effort.
Arizona’s Didi Gregorius, the Snakes’ rookie shortstop, energized his team with hustle. Twice, late in games, Gregorius took second base because a Giant outfielder was lackadaisical in throwing the ball back to the infield on a shallow base hit, and both times. Gregorius crossed the plate as the winning run.
Home runs were once again costly in this series as the Giants continually fell behind not on situational hits but the long ball. To their credit, the Giants kept coming back from 2-run deficits, but in the end the comebacks weren’t enough.
The Giants fought back to tie Game 1 on a Posey homer and win it on a Belt walk-off base hit in the ninth. They took Game 2 to extra innings on a Belt homer, but fell apart defensively to lose it in 10. Last night’s loss was a carbon copy in the 11th, except for the glaring statistic:
0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
The brightest positive from this series and really of the season is Brandon Crawford, who wrote in his blog that he has changed his stance and is “standing taller” – which is yielding great results. Here’s a three paragraph pullquote, because it’s great and emblematic of 25 Guys with one Common Goal:
“It’s great hitting home runs, believe me. I had four all last season and have three already this year. But to tell you the truth I take just as much pride in laying down a crucial sacrifice bunt, like the one last night in the ninth inning.
Sacrifice bunts might not get the scoreboard flashing and the water spouting, but they are noticed by your teammates. They know you did your job and that it was a key to winning the game. My job last night was to move Torres into scoring position, just as in the fourth game of the World Series it was to move Theriot into scoring position. In each situation, the next batter got a hit that scored the runner. If the runner is still at first, he doesn’t score.
OK, so laying down the sac bunt isn’t as much fun as getting the winning hit. You’re not in the newspaper the next day or on the highlights that night. But you know what you did. Last night, after everyone punched Belt in the ribs a few times, my teammates congratulated me on the bunt. I point this out to make the point that winning is a team effort. When you stop playing as a team, you stop winning.” – Brandon Crawford
Brandon went 4 for 9 (.444) with a double and a homer in the Arizona series. He has four home runs and remains the number one ranked SS in the majors in fWAR. Importantly Crawford knocked Ian Kennedy out of the game, allowing our current ace, Madison Bumgarner to outduel the D’backs starter who has given us the most trouble over the years.
The second takeaway has to be the redemptive hitting of Brandon Belt after intense scrutiny for his slumping bat. Bochy made a point to spend extra time and it paid huge dividends as Belt won one game from the bench and tied another to take it to extra innings.
Our bullpen performed admirably and indeed is starting to gel.
Uncharacteristically lackadaisical play and simple mistakes by Andres Torres, Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla and Buster Posey cost us the tight losses.
The D’Backs were more focused in late and extra innings for two games. Reminded me that they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 16 innings, in their rubber-match, third game of the season to ensure they won their opening series – coming from behind twice to do it. This past weekend at AT&T, they showed it wasn’t a fluke.
There is fight, effort and smart, crisp play happening under Gibson in Arizona. They’ve got good pitching and a decent bullpen (J.J. Putz got tagged, but is likely to settle down as the season wears on).
The Arizona Diamondbacks are whom the Giants will be fighting to win the division.