SAN FRANCISCO – On a night the Giants celebrated their wind-whipped former home, they played a game deserving of Croix de Candlesticks for all.
It was more of an endurance test, really, at AT&T Park Thursday night. The waystations included a surprising bunt single from Buster Posey, a 420-foot cymbal-clash of a double from Michael Morse, some wind-turned center fielders, potential seagull interference, a massively damaging error from Pablo Sandoval, a completely spent bullpen and, finally, little Tony Campana hitting a tiebreaking single off Yusmeiro Petit in the 10th inning that sent the Arizona Diamondbacks to a 6-5 victory.
The Giants lost two of three in the series after beating the Diamondbacks in three of four games to open the season in Arizona. Giants’ closer Sergio Romo grimaced on the mound Thursday and appeared to be in some discomfort, but manager Bruce Bochy attributed it stomach cramps saying Romo has a touch of the flu.
Starting pitching report
Last week, Ryan Vogelsong was handed an eight-run lead at Dodger Stadium but could not walk through broad daylight to secure a victory. He’s more of a back-alley fighter, anyway.
Vogelsong’s first start of the season at AT&T Park was a struggle, all right. He kept his fists balled while the Diamondbacks scored four runs on eight baserunners in five innings. But instead of petering out, he gained steam. Instead of breaking down, he got better.
And he had some serious muscle behind him. Vogelsong suddenly was in line for a victory when Morse hit a booming two-run double off the bricks in the fifth inning – a 420-foot shot that would have cleared 29 other major league fences.
In the early going, it appeared that Vogelsong had no shot of completing five innings for the second consecutive start. The Diamondbacks loaded the bases in the second inning on a hit batter, a walk and a single, then Cliff Pennington knocked in two when he singled on a first-pitch curveball.
The inning would have been worse but Parra made a huge baserunning mistake, getting hung up off third base on pitcher Randall Delgado’s bunt. Even safety squeezes aren’t so safe when you don’t execute them properly. First baseman Brandon Belt alertly threw to third base, where Parra was tagged out.
Vogelsong found more trouble in the third when Goldschmidt doubled and Miguel Prado singled to put runners at the corners with one out. The right-hander shook to his changeup and threw one at the ankles – a perfect spot to get a double-play grounder. Instead, Montero golfed it into the right-center gap for a two-run double that put the Diamondbacks up 4-1.
The game could have gotten out of hand right there, especially after second baseman Brandon Hicks booted Mark Trumbo’s grounder for an error. But Vogelsong, despite being near 70 pitches in the third, got a pair of fly outs to limit the damage.
He got better from there, facing the minimum over the next two innings. And after he plunked Prado with one out in the fifth, he finally got that double-play grounder from Montero.
Vogelsong had good run and sink on his changeup all night, and although he missed his share of spots, his stuff and stamina were both encouraging. He struck out Goldschmidt twice, both times on fastballs.
Vogelsong knew he’d only be tasked with facing one batter in the sixth and Trumbo laced a double off him. That’s when the right-hander began to discover he had more allies than just Morse in that back alley.
David Huff and Juan Gutierrez preserved Vogelsong’s decision, getting three outs to strand Trumbo in scoring position.
Hicks made up for his earlier mistake by ranging up the middle to take a hit away from Parra, with Belt also contributing a clean pick on the one-hop throw. Huff struck out Pennington and Gutierrez flashed 95 mph before striking out pinch hitter A.J. Pollock with a curveball.
Jean Machi came to his own defense in the seventh after the Diamondbacks began the inning with a single and double. Machi fell behind Goldschmidt before issuing an intentional walk to load the bases, then threw an outside split that Prado chopped back to the mound. It was a spring training drill from there, and a 1-2-3 double play. Javier Lopez entered and didn’t trip on his cape while striking out Montero on four pitches to strand two.
The eighth wasn’t any easier as the Diamondbacks got a walk and a one-out single off Santiago Casilla. Campana followed with a chopper to third base, and even though Sandoval had no shot to get the speedy runner, he threw to first base anyway. The throw sailed high for an error that allowed Parra to score the tying run from second base.
Casilla escaped the inning and Romo pitched around Pagan’s error in what was otherwise a much quieter, eight-pitch ninth inning.
Petit, the last man standing in the bullpen, gave up a run when Pennington singled, stole second base and scored on Campana’s single to right field.
At the plate
The Giants used a series of small cuts to rally from a 4-1 deficit.
Hunter Pence, who entered with a .111 average, threaded a double down the third base line and scored on Hicks’ two-out single in the second inning. Posey surprised the ballpark by placing a two-out bunt single to the third base side of the mound in the third. (Guess those early-morning bunting sessions with Tim Flannery this spring weren’t all about “improving barrel accuracy,” were they, Buster?)
Posey survived an inadvertent clothesline from Goldschmidt at first base and received an RBI for plating Angel Pagan, who had begun the inning by extending his hitting streak to 10 games when he singled in a nine-pitch at-bat.
The Giants kept up the pressure in the fourth, when Morse and Brandon Crawford connected for consecutive doubles to make it a one-run game. But the rally stalled when Vogelsong bunted into a forceout at third base and Pagan grounded into a double play.
The Giants received yet another two-out hit in the fifth, though. Sandoval walked and Posey singled ahead of Morse, who got ahead 3-1 and let loose on a hanging curve from right-hander Will Harris.
Morse’s power is to all fields, including right-center, and he said in the spring that he wouldn’t mind sacrificing a few home runs for triples at AT&T Park. Given his jubilant reaction, we’re guessing he’s cool with go-ahead two-run doubles, too.
It marked the seventh time in eight games that Morse drove in a run.
In the field
On a night the club said goodbye to Candlestick Park with pregame ceremonies involving Giants and 49ers greats, it was like they never left.
Crawford ended up with a leadoff double in the eighth when his deep drive to center field either hit a seagull, a gust of wind or both. Campana got completely fooled as he raced to the wall only to have the ball drop in front of him.
The Giants missed two chances to score with the bases loaded, as Belt and Sandoval flied out.
Then Arizona got a gift in center when Montero’s deep drive in the ninth kept on drifting and clanked off Pagan’s glove near the track for an error. Montero was stranded as well.
The Giants announced 41,577 paid. They received commemorative Candlestick Park scarves that came in extremely handy.
The Giants welcome the Colorado Rockies for a three-game series that begins Friday night. Madison Bumgarner (1-0, 1.74) takes the mound against left-hander Jorge De La Rosa (0-1, 8.31). First pitch is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. PDT.
It’ll be Matt Cain (0-1, 5.73) vs. left-hander Brett Anderson on Saturday and Tim Hudson (2-0, 1.15) vs. right-hander Jordan Lyles (2-0, 3.86) on Sunday.