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What we learned as Giants rally late to stun D-backs in extras

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There are two things you can count on when the Giants and Diamondbacks get together. The Giants are going to keep throwing punches, and the Diamondbacks are going to Diamondback it up at some point. 

The Giants had no shot against Merrill Kelly through eight innings, but Torey Lovullo turned to his bullpen in the ninth and watched it once again implode. The Giants scored four runs in the ninth, one more in the 10th, and walked out of Chase Field with a 5-4 win that clinched a series victory and pushed their NL West lead to four games. 

This was the first time since 1993 that the Giants trailed by four runs in the ninth and came back to win the game. You have to go back to 1989 to find the last time they did it on the road. But this team keeps coming at you, and the Diamondbacks keep making strange decisions late in games. 

The Giants have been dominated by some back-end starters this year and Kelly, who entered the day with a 4.38 ERA, was as good as anyone they've seen. He became the third pitcher this season to complete eight shutout innings against the Giants, joining Joe Ross and Cole Irvin, and he didn't even seem to break a sweat while doing it. 

The Diamondbacks pulled Kelly and didn't go with closer Tyler Clippard, opting instead for righty Taylor Clarke. That was a huge mistake. Kris Bryant greeted him with a 104 mph double and Alex Dickerson hit a 108 mph single. Brandon Crawford's double off the wall chased Clarke and got the Giants their first run. 

 

Clippard entered and immediately drilled Donovan Solano on an 0-2 pitch to load the bases. Brandon Belt's single got the tying run to second, but Clippard got a couple of outs to leave it up to LaMonte Wade Jr. On the eighth pitch of a gutsy at-bat, Wade lined a single to right that tied it up and completed the comeback. 

Bryant was back up in the 10th and drove the go-ahead run home. Jake McGee locked it down in the bottom of the inning despite entering with a free runner on second base. 

Slowing Down

Kevin Gausman was sharp on Wednesday, but three of his four shortest starts of the season have come in the second half. Anthony DeSclafani went on the IL with shoulder fatigue after recording just 21 outs over his previous two starts. The third member of the first half's "big three" is also having trouble getting as deep as he did early on.

Alex Wood pitched through traffic all afternoon, allowing four earned on seven hits and three walks in his four innings. He certainly didn't get any help from his defense -- second baseman Donovan Solano whiffed on a couple of hard-liners up the middle -- but it was still a struggle. Wood has now pitched 19 1/3 innings in four second-half starts and allowed 12 earned runs. 

The Giants don't yet view this as a lasting concern, but it's certainly worth watching. The biggest concern coming into the season was how the rotation would hold up over 162 games after a short season in 2020. 

Can't Touch Kelly

Kelly is exactly the type of guy who has given this Giants lineup issues this year. He doesn't have overpowering stuff, but he fills up the zone and mixes it up, and like others who have had success, he went heavy on his cutter. 

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The Giants were aggressive against Kelly, but all that did was lead to quick outs. When the Giants did square a ball up, the Diamondbacks outfielders had them played perfectly. 

Kelly cruised through the game and had one of his best frames in the eighth. He struck out Darin Ruf, got Wade to pop up, and then froze Tommy La Stella on his 102nd pitch of the day. The Giants had just three hits against Kelly. 

Back To Domination

Jay Jackson didn't give up a hit in his first six Giants outings and then ran into some trouble, which unfortunately led to Jackson getting some truly horrendous comments on his social media accounts. He made those public after Monday's game and manager Gabe Kapler forcefully backed him up in comments the next day. 

Kapler went to Jackson twice more in the series and he was absolutely dominant. Over the final two games of the series, Jackson faced seven batters and struck out six of them. Jackson, who walked off the mound with a smile on his face, has 17 strikeouts this year in 10 1/3 innings. 

 

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