Hunter Pence must have been fired up to face his former teammates. The Giants outfielder went 3 for 3 with a double and home run against Cliff Lee on Monday.
Unfortunately, Pence was the only Giant who figured out Lee on Monday. Lee pitched eight solid innings Monday night to improve to 4-0 at AT&T Park — well, at least in the regular season.
And so ends the Giants’ six-game winning streak.
You know how 17 of the Giants’ 19 wins this season have required a save or a walk-off win? Well, the losses have come in similar fashion. Monday’s loss was only the fourth this season by the opposition that didn’t require a save or walk-off hit.
That means that 36 of the Giants’ 42 to games this season have been decided by three runs or fewer. Monday’s game almost became game No. 37, but the Phillies tacked on a run in the ninth.
Madison Bumgarner had his worst outing of the season. He danced through trouble in the first and second innings, which came back to bit him when Michael Young delivered a two-run double in the second. His two walks came in the first two innings, contributing to his troubles. He also had two wild pitches, one resulting in a run.
Bumgarner, who entered the game with 1.55 ERA, left it with a 2.31 ERA. However, that could change.
Interestingly, the Giants are appealing a ruling by the official scorer, seeking to change Eric Kratz’s infield single to error.
With a runner on first and no outs in the second, Kratz hit a bouncer up the middle that Marco Scutaro gloved behind second base. In his haste to try to turn two, he attempted to flip the ball to Brandon Crawford with his glove. The ball fell to the ground and both runners were safe.
The play was originally ruled an error, then later changed to an infield hit.
MoreSplashHits reviewed the play, and it was indeed an error. If Scutaro reaches into his glove and makes the feed to Crawford with his right hand, they get the force at second, but probably not the double play. Scutaro’s effort to make a quicker feed to keep the double play possible resulted in the errant feed. Error.
However, as CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly reported, the league rarely overturns the ruling of the official scorer, even if he’s wrong.
In another odd stat, the Giants did not leave a runner on base the entire game. It’s the first time they’ve done that since 2008. The Giants had five hits and no walks. Two of the hits led to runs (both by Pence). The other three were erased on double plays.
When the Giants put runners on first and third with nobody out in the first inning, and then didn’t score, I was sure that was going to come back and haunt them.
In one way it did. It kept Matt Cain from recording his second consecutive shutout victory.
But thanks to Cain and a solid effort from the bullpen, it didn’t. The Giants kept the Phillies off the board too, allowing them to win in the 11th on an RBI single by Melky Cabrera.
However, the real story on this night was Cain vs. Cliff Lee.
Matt Cain’s numbers:
- 9 IP, 2 hits, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4K, 91 pitches, 64 strikes.
Cliff Lee’s numbers
- 10 IP, 7 hits, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 Ks, 102 pitches, 81 strikes
“I haven’t seen two pitchers pitch that well. What a matchup,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Terrific game by two guys that hooked horns and neither one was giving in.”
It actually looked like the Giants would get to Lee early when Angel Pagan led off the game with a clean single to center. Cabrera followed with a bloop single to right, allowing Pagan to reach third.
But Pablo Sandoval followed with a fly to right too shallow to score Pagan, and then Lee got out of the jam by getting Buster Posey to ground into a 5-4-3 double play.
Now, you can’t blame Bochy for not playing for one run in the first inning. But you could in the fifth when it was evident that both pitchers were dealing.
In the fifth, Brett Pill led off with a double that one-hopped over the center-field fence. But with Ryan Theriot up next, Bochy did not have Theriot try to bunt Pill to third.
Instead, Theriot grounded to shortstop, forcing Pill to hold a second. Then Nate Schierholtz came up, and grounded to shortstop, forcing Pill to hold a second. And Brandon Crawford ended the inning by, you guessed it, grounding to short.
Those outs were the first three of 12 consecutive batters that Lee set down.
“I had a good changeup and I was throwing my curveballs for strikes,” Lee said. “I don’t usually do both in the same game. When things are going well, I try to work fast. I try to keep a good pace. Everybody likes that. I was told I was don after nine (innings), but I said I could easily pitch another inning. I tried it again after 10, but it didn’t happen.”
Good thing, too. Because after Lee got out of jams in the 9th and 10th by inducing double-play grounders, Antonio Bastardo came into pitch the 11th.
After Crawford opened the inning by striking out, Brandon Belt singled to center. Belt took second on third baseman Ty Wigginton’s error on an Angel Pagan grounder. Then Cabrera lined a sharp single to right to score Belt.
On the winning play, Belt broke at the crack of the bat, even though Cabrera’s line sailed just over the reach of leaping second baseman Freddy Galvis.
With that jump Belt, easily beat Hunter Pence’s throw home. Without that jump, he might have been out at the plate.
“I was hoping (it was a hit),” Belt said. “Thank goodness it was because if it wasn’t I was going to be in some big trouble. Off the bat, it looked like it was easily a base hit to me. And I wanted to end the game right there.”
Belt’s instincts gave the Giants a 4-2 homestead and evened their season record at 6-6.
The Giants get a day off Thursday before opening a seven-game homestead in New York against the Mets on Friday. Barry Zito faces Jonathan Niese in a 4:10 p.m. game Friday.
Prior to the 2010 World Series, Cliff Lee was lights-out in the postseason.
In eight postseason starts, the veteran left-hander was 7-0, giving up nine earned runs in 64.1 IPs (1.26 ERA).
Last season, the Yankees beat the Phillies 4 games to 2, with Cliff Lee pitching the Phillies to both of their wins.
After Lee had given up two earned runs in 24 IPs in the 2010 AL playoffs (0.75 ERA), More Splash Hits thought the Giants were going to have to beat the Rangers the same way the Yankees beat the Phillies.
But then something funny happened. The unhittable Mr. Lee got tagged by the offensively challenged Giants hitters.
After things looked bleak in Game with the Rangers taking a 2-0 lead on Tim Lincecum, the Giants got to Lee in the third when Edgar Renteria reached on an error and Andres Torres was hit by a pitch, a rarity from Lee. Then Freddy Sanchez roped a double to left to score Renteria, and Buster Posey followed with a single to score Torress and the game was tied 2-2. The rally ended when Pat Burrell and Cody Ross were called out on strikes, leaving More Splash Hits to yell “WHY are you looking at two-strike pitches from CLIFF LEE?!?!?”
Both batters would get a chance at redemption later.
In the fifth, after Sanchez had another RBI double, Pat Burrell worked the count full on Lee. He took another two-strike pitch from Lee, and it was a ball.
Now, how many times last season did we see Giants hitters fall behind in the count, then wave wildly at pitch a foot outside or down in the dirt. Against Cliff Lee, that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t because of anything the Giants hitters did.
With two on and two out in the fifth, Lee got ahead of Ross 1-2. So was the next pitch a foot outside? No, a letter-high fastball over the plate, and Ross slapped into center for an RBI single.
Aubrey Huff was up next. Again Lee got ahead 1-2. The next pitch in the dirt? Nope, on the outer edge at the knees. And Huff slapped it into center for another RBI single.
That was the end of Lee’s night, but not the end of the inning. Juan Uribe greeted reliever Darren O’Day by smacking his 2-0 pitch into the left-field bleachers for an 8-2 Giants lead, leading to an 11-7 Giants win.
Now let’s fast-forward to Game 5 in Arlington.
Lee was looking like he had in his earlier postseason starts. He matched Tim Lincecum scoreless inning for scoreless inning through six innings.
Now, let me know if this sounds familiar.
Lee opened the inning by facing Ross. Ross fell behind in the count 1-2. Then he slapped a single into center.
Uribe came up next and fell behind 0-2. Then he slapped a single into center.
Then Burrell came up and worked the count full, then fouled off a 3-2 pitch before Lee got a huge strikeout by throwing it past Burrell.
Now, Lee had a choice. He could pitch to Edgar Renteria, or pitch around Renteria with first base open, and potentially go after Aaron Rowand.
At this point, Renteria was 6 for 16 in the World Series; Rowand was 1 for 3. In fact, for the entire postseason, Rowand was 3 for 11.
When Lee opened with two balls to Renteria, it looked like he might just pitch around the Giants shortstop. Then he threw a 2-0 cutter that didn’t cut. Renteria pounded it over the left-field fence, and the rest is history. (By the way, Rowand followed Renteria’s homer by swinging at the first pitch from Lee and flying out to right).
So, to Cliff Lee, for your refusal to bounce two-strike pitches to the free-swinging Giants hitters, thanks!
The Top 10 List of Non-Giants Who Should Be on Every Giants Fans Christmas Card List:
No. 5, Chase Utley
No. 6, Andrew Friedman and Neil Huntington
No. 7, Roy Oswalt
No. 8, Bud Black
No. 9, Paul Emmel
No. 10, Bengie Molina