Crisp air, slow bats in extras
The frigid wind that whistled through China Basin on Thursday night gave AT&T Park a bit of an October feel. The first Giants-Rockies game of the season did, too, at least until the number of seagulls overtook the number of fans in attendance.
The second- and third-place teams in the NL West played a white-knuckler that made the ballpark a fun place to be.
In the end, the Rockies had the most fun as they won 5-3 in 12 innings on Carlos Gonzalez’s two-out, two-strike, two-run single off Cory Gearrin.
Gearrin left a sinker up and Gonzalez floated it over second baseman Kelby Tomlinson’s glove to punch the Giants for walking the bases loaded.
Pierce Johnson, in his second inning, had walked pinch-hitter Chris Iannetta and Charlie Blackmon with one out. Gearrin got a flyball from Gerardo Parra before walking Nolan Arenado to load them for Gonzalez.
Brandon Crawford and manager Bruce Bochy were ejected in the bottom of the 12th after Crawford argued a called third strike, a sensitive topic these days. The Giants were out of position players. A pitcher would have had to play a position had the game gone to the 13th.
After the game, Bochy said called third strikes are “frustrating” because guys are doing such a great job laying off pitches, “and they’re balls.” Crawford’s was the Giants 13th strikeout of the night, including four by Andrew McCutchen.
Loss aside, this game might be remembered as a turning point for Jeff Samardzija.
The right-hander spotted the Rockies three runs in the second inning on a two-run double and an RBI single by the bottom two hitters in the order, second baseman Daniel Castro and pitcher Chad Bettis.
But Samardzija locked down the mound and did not allow another run through the rest of his season-high 62⁄3 innings, finally pitching like the interim staff leader needs to pitch.
The offense responded in kind by getting him off the hook. They scored a third-inning run on a Gorkys Hernandez sacrifice fly then tied it 3-3 on Brandon Belt’s two-run homer in the sixth, originally ruled a double before a video review allowed Belt to complete his trot.
Belt has homered in four straight games, his second such streak of the season. The last Giant to do that was Barry Bonds in 2004. Belt has 10 homers for the season.
Bochy said after the game Belt has had some knee stiffness and that he was planning to give him Friday off, but he will wait to see how he feels before batting practice.
Will Smith retired Gerardo Parra to strand Samardzija’s final runner, in the seventh. Sam Dyson pitched a scoreless eighth despite Evan Longoria’s throwing error to start the inning. Hunter Strickland was perfect in the ninth and Tony Watson survived two scratch singles in the 10th.
In other words, Giants relievers held their own until the 12th against the Rockies’ Billion Dollar Bullpen (a slight exaggeration), which got six shutout innings from Bryan Shaw, Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee and Wade Davis, who got his 16th save. Ottavino had to survive a Buster Posey drive to the wall center to end the eighth.
Samardzija’s start was his first since he came within a strike of a six-inning, three-run game. That one ended with five runs in 52⁄3 when he allowed a two-run Francisco Cervelli homer.
Home plate umpire Chris Segal ejects Bruce Bochy in the 12th inning after the Giants manager argued a called third strike against Brandon Crawford, the Giants’ 13th strikeout of the night.