Brandon Belt stepped up to the plate in the eighth against Cardinals closer Jason Motte. It wasn’t the game situation that Motte was hoping for. And the result wasn’t what he was hoping.
Belt sent a towering home run to right center. It was the biggest blast of the night for the Giants. And yet, they won 9-0.
The Giants learned a lesson that they needed to learn all season. Good things can happen when you put the bat on the ball.
No one taught the lesson better than Marco Scutaro.
But the Giants didn’t exactly tattoo Cardinals starter Kyle Lohse. They killed him with 1,000 pin pricks, and the Cardinals defense didn’t help him out either.
First inning, Angel Pagan leads off the game by singling to right (So huge to get that first hit out of the way). Then the Giants do the hit-and-run with Scutaro, who laced a pitch to right and Pagan took third. The next three hitters didn’t get the ball out of the infield, yet Pablo Sandoval’s bouncer back to Lohse was enough to get Pagan home. Giants 1-0.
Second inning, Gregor Blanco lines a one-out single to right and advances to second on a Brandon Crawford groundout to first. Then Matt Cain shoots a single to center, scoring Blanco. It was the third consecutive game a Giants pitcher recorded an RBI. And it was another example of sloppy defense. Running on contact with two outs, the speedy Blanco should have scored easily on a single to center. But because it was the pitcher batting, center field Jon Jay was playing shallow. He got to the ball just as Blanco was rounding third. A strong throw would have made for a close play at home. It was not a strong throw, and it was cut off before reaching the plate. Giants 2-0.
Third inning, Scutaro lines another single to right (what else is new) on the first pitch of the innng. On the second pitch, Sandoval lined a double to left. Buster Posey walked to load the bases and Kyle Lohse was done. In comes Joe Kelly. Then came maybe the weirdest double in NLCS play. Off the bat, Hunter Pence hit what looked like it might be a double-play ball when he got his bat broken by a Kelly fastball. Slow-mo replay actually showed the broken bat making contact with the ball THREE TIMES. The spin on the ball made shortstop Pete Kozma break to his right, then the ball looped to his left and into center, scoring Scutaro and Sandoval. Jay came up to field the ball, but mishandled it, and Posey scored all the way from first. It didn’t end there. The Giants would add two more runs on three balls that didn’t leave the infield. Belt hits a chopper back to the bound that a jumping Kelly deflected with his pitching hand. By the time second baseman Daniel Descalso field the ball, Belt was safe a first. Then Blanco walked to load the bases … again. Brandon Crawford hit a slow chopper that Kozma charged and fielded. His only play was to first, yet he tried to force Pence out at home. No chance. Pence scored, and the bases were still loaded. After Cain struck out, Pagan hit what again looked like a double-play ball. But Kozma’s underhanded toss to Descalso was high, forcing Descalso’s throw to first to be low and Pagan beat it out, scoring Blanco. Scutaro walked to load the balls … again … before Sandoval ended the inning with a line out to first. Giants 7-0.
The Giants added an eighth run in the seventh inning on a run-scoring double play by Aubrey Huff. Sorry, Aubrey, no RBI. And then a ninth run on Belt’s homer in the eighth.
The rest of the work was done by the pitching. Cain’s outing looked more like his 2010 postseason, allowing no runs on five hits and one walk in 5 2/3 innings. The reaction shot of the night was when from Cain when manager Bruce Bochy came to relieve him after Cains struck out David Freese for the second out in the sixth.
“NOW?!?!?” Cain said. Tim McCarver read his lips as saying “No!!!” But McCarver was wrong, as he often is.
But after 102 pitches, Cain had done enough. Jeremy Affledt pitched the next 1 1/3 innings, giving up no hits and one walk. Santiago Castilla got the first two outs in the eighth while allowing two hits. Javier Lopez came in to end the eighth. He got two more outs in the ninth, but also walked two as he struggled with his footing on the mound in a raging downpour.
Bochy went and got Sergio Romo to get the final out, which he did by getting Matt Holliday (fitting) to pop out to Scutaro (even more fitting).
And the Giants were singing … and dancing … in the rain.