Kruk and Kuip: 'A night of frustration'
Brian Wilson was the winning pitcher Thursday in L.A. after pitching a scoreless 10th inning and watching the Dodgers walk off against Jeremy Affeldt. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
Hunter Pence hit a solo home run, but also grounded into a double play with the bases loaded Thursday. (AP)
LOS ANGELES – These are not the words any Giants fan wanted to hear Thursday night.
Brian Wilson, winning pitcher.
The Giants’ former All-Star closer, now a visage in black and blue, faced his former team for the first time – and he inched the Dodgers within one more game of a delicious NL West-clinching celebration.
Wilson entered to start the 10th inning and pitched around a 3-2 walk to Brandon Belt. He got Marco Scutaro to pop up, got Buster Posey to reach on a fly out to right field, then hopped off the mound to field Hunter Pence’s dribbler and zing a throw to first base.
Then the Dodgers made a winner of him, walking off with a 3-2 victory when Adrian Gonzalez singled off Jeremy Affeldt and Carl Crawford raced home from second base, barely sliding ahead of Buster Posey’s tag after a strong throw from center fielder Angel Pagan.
Affeldt was appearing for the first time since July 20. He was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day after missing time with a strained groin.
The Dodgers’ magic number shrank to five to clinch the NL West; it’s very possible they could celebrate in front of their archrivals before this four-game series ends, if the Colorado Rockies provide a little help against the Diamondbacks.
Starting pitching report
No matter how deep the Giants sink this season, and no matter how far the Dodgers go, the context probably will be different the next time Matt Cain and Zack Grienke draw dueling pistols.
Both were signed to be rotation anchors for years to come. You can look forward to years and years of great confrontations between them.
Oh. Yasiel Puig. You’ll get your fill of him, too.
Cain and Grienke matched each other for six innings, but that only lit the mercury lamps for Puig to command the stage yet again. He raised an arm as if he hit a walk-off home run. His tiebreaking double in the seventh inning ended up being pretty important, though.
Cain was efficient, effective and probably only regretted one of the 89 pitches he threw in seven innings – plus one more throw to second base he’d definitely like to do over.
The Dodgers tied it in the second inning when Cain fielded A.J. Ellis’ comebacker and threw wide to second base while trying for a double play. The error put runners at the corners with one out; Mark Ellis followed with a ground out to second base that scored the run when he beat the double-play throw.
The Dodgers had five baserunners in that second inning, even though they only hit one ball out of the infield – Marco Scutaro’s dropped pop-up – before Carl Crawford flied out to center to strand three.
Surprisingly, Cain only threw 18 pitches to the seven batters in the second inning. He continued to pump strikes and work quickly, and didn’t allow another runner in scoring position until the seventh.
A.J. Ellis led off with a single, then pinch runner Dee Gordon stole second base and advanced to third on a sacrifice. Cain was poised to escape after striking out pinch hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. with the infield in. But he missed his spot on a first-pitch, 92 mph fastball that Puig turned around and drove to the wall in left-center field.
The Giants had gotten Puig out with hard stuff inside both earlier in the game and the last time they saw him. Cain’s pitch wasn’t far enough inside, though.
That pitch spoiled an otherwise fine outing in which Cain held the Dodgers to two runs (one earned) on six hits and a walk while striking out five.
Javier Lopez and Sandy Rosario tag-teamed a scoreless eighth inning for the Giants. Santiago Casilla pitched the ninth to send the game to extra innings.
The Dodgers bullpen was a lot more interesting. There’s never a dull moment when Dodgers manager Don Mattingly makes a pitching change against the Giants.
Mattingly apparently told plate umpire Gerry Davis that he wanted J.P. Howell to enter the game to start the seventh. But left-hander Paco Rodriguez entered through the bullpen gate and began warming up. After a delay of several minutes, Howell replaced Rodriguez on the mound and tossed a scoreless seventh inning.
Rodriguez was still eligible and he faced two batters in the eighth.
Then the door to the Dodgers bullpen swung open, and BWeezy charged through.
At the plate
The Giants’ futility against Clayton Kershaw is well documented, but Greinke is poised to be another sharp foil for years to come. Facing them for the first time as a Dodger, Grienke threw six innings and yielded only Hunter Pence’s solo home run, which scraped over the hip-high wall in the right field corner in the second inning.
The Giants couldn’t get anything else going against Greinke, and they failed to come through in the clutch when they generated some traffic against the bullpen.
First, Bochy tried the butcher boy with Cain after Gregor Blanco hit a one-out single in the seventh inning. That’s probably a play Bochy should retire, since Cain entered hitting .068 and the Giants pitchers had a .090 average, which ranked worst among NL clubs.
Sure enough, Cain pulled back the bunt attempt, took a full swing, struck out and the Dodgers turned the double play by throwing out Blanco at second base.
The Giants rallied in the eighth when Angel Pagan singled, stole second base and Scutaro drew a walk. Rodriguez entered and Belt put down a bunt – the first sacrifice hit of his career – to advance the tying and go-ahead runs into scoring position?
Did he do it on his own? The guess here: probably.
The move ended up taking the bat out of Buster Posey’s hands. After Rodriguez issued an intentional walk, right-hander Ronald Belisario entered and got Pence to ground into a double play.
The Giants got the tying run into scoring position again in the ninth, when Pablo Sandoval led off with a single and pinch runner Juan Perez stole second base. This time, they found a way to get the tying run home.
Perez had to hold on Brandon Crawford’s ground out to third base, but then advanced on a passed ball. And Gregor Blanco whistled a tying single up the middle off Kenley Jansen, a pitcher who had struck out 33 in 18 2/3 career innings against the Giants.
Impossible as it might seem, the Giants’ streak of 13 games without an error was the longest in modern franchise history (or, to 1900), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Dodgers flashed that graphic on their telecast in the second inning – and a few seconds later, third baseman Pablo Sandoval couldn’t handle Andre Ethier’s grounder. The official scorer could’ve flipped a coin on this one, and he ruled a hit. Then, almost comically, second baseman Marco Scutaro dropped an easy fly ball in shallow right field for the eleventeenth time this season. But that wasn’t an error, either, because Ethier held up and was forced out at second base.
Then came the no-doubt error to bust up the streak. Cain’s throw to second base cut on him, and ended up going into center field for an error to put runners at the corners.
It was the Giants’ first error since Aug. 28 at Colorado.
Yes, that’s right: Of all the Giants teams to put together the longest errorless stretch in their modern history, it was THIS team. Makes as little sense to me as it probably does to you.
The Dodgers announced 53,393 paid on Magic Johnson bobblehead night. Hmm….. How come they never had a Frank McCourt bobblehead night?
The Giants continue their four-game series at Dodger Stadium on Friday, and it’s a tremendous pitching matchup. Madison Bumgarner (11-9, 2.82 ERA) takes the mound against left-hander Clayton Kershaw (14-8, 1.92). First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PDT.