Rewind: Giants use long ball to salvage a win in Colorado

Rewind: Giants use long ball to salvage a win in Colorado
April 23, 2014, 7:30 pm
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In 22 games, Michael Morse already has one more homer than all Giants left fielders combined to hit last season. (USATI)

Pablo Sandoval didn’t make it to the end Wednesday afternoon. He had a stomach virus so Joaquin Arias pinch hit for him in the seventh inning.

Bruce Bochy didn’t make it to the end, either. He only lasted four innings before being ejected for arguing balls and strikes.

Even the hero of the game, Hector Sanchez, told reporters he was cramping in his legs when he clocked the tiebreaking, 11th-inning grand slam that made the Giants 12-10 winners over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

[INSTANT REPLAY: Sanchez slams Giants to win over Rockies]

An electric game? More like electrolytes.

The Giants hit six home runs. The game featured eight lead changes. The result was going to be devastating to lose or a relief to win.

The Giants should come home relieved, all right. A 2-4 road trip is nothing to brag about. But it’s not the worst outcome when you consider they played six games and received exactly one RBI hit that wasn’t a home run.

They needed all six of their homers to avoid getting swept at Coors. It was the first time in the Giants’ San Francisco era that they scored as many as 12 runs in a game with home runs accounting for all the scoring. The previous high was nine runs, last done in 1987.

Sanchez provided two of those lead changes. His solo shot in the eighth gave the Giants a lead that third base umpire “Balkin’ Bob” Davidson and second baseman Brandon Hicks' fumble combined to squander in the bottom of the inning. Then Sanchez worked a tremendous, 10-pitch at-bat against right-hander Chad Bettis in the 11th when he crushed his slam into the forest diorama beyond the center field fence.

It was just the sixth extra-inning grand slam in the Giants’ San Francisco era. Sanchez joined Mays, Jack Hiatt, Jeffrey Leonard, Greg Litton and A.J. Pierzynski, who last did it in 2004 against the Expos in Puerto Rico.

Also credit Sanchez for a solid job behind the plate, including several run-saving smothers of Jeremy Affeldt pitches in the dirt with a runner on third base in the seventh inning. It more than made up for his miserable game earlier on the trip in San Diego, when Sanchez was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts and a double-play grounder, and had a passed ball that accounted for a run in a 2-1 loss.

Matt Cain started that game in San Diego. He also started Wednesday’s wild finale, and ended up taking no decision after giving up seven runs in six-plus innings. But Cain also appeared to have his best fastball of the season and provided more evidence to make you think he’ll be the front-of-the-rotation presence the Giants need him to be this season.

Sanchez ended up being the story but Michael Morse also put two homers into low-grade orbit, giving him five this season. In 22 games, Morse already has one more homer than all Giants left fielders combined to hit last season. And, uh .... yeah. Those two homers traveled 450 and 458 feet, according to ESPN Stats and Info. And both of them were hit TO THE OPPOSITE FIELD.

Brandon Belt also hit a huge, two-run homer in the seventh that accounted for one more of those lead changes. Belt has seven homers this season for a share of the NL lead with Arizona’s Mark Trumbo, who’s headed to the DL with a stress fracture in his foot.

At least the story didn't end up being Davidson, who somehow is permitted to interpret the balk rule different from all the dozens of other big league umpires.He called Santiago Casilla for turning his neck toward second base while standing on the rubber. That moved the tying run to third base, and with the infield pulled in, Hicks couldn't make a clean stop on a ground ball to take a shot at the plate.
Watching the game from the green room here at the CSN studios in San Francisco, I looked through the rule book and read the section on balks six times. I still couldn't find any justification for the balk call because the neck move could not be construed as part of Casilla's pitching motion. Thanks to Sanchez's slam, it turned out to be a moot point.

Eventually, the Giants will have to collect some RBI singles, doubles and triples – especially at home, where the ball doesn’t go out as easily. Right now it appears there’s a lid on the basket; Morse lined out with the bases loaded and Brandon Crawford lined into a double play earlier in Wednesday’s game.

But for now, they’re content to trot home if it results in boarding a happy flight home, and drinking plenty of fluids.

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