Stratton throws six shutout innings, Panik gives Giants instant spark in win over Phillies

Stratton throws six shutout innings, Panik gives Giants instant spark in win over Phillies


SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had a full, healthy lineup on the field for … two innings. 

Brandon Belt was removed before the top of the third because of a stomach illness, but the Giants wouldn’t need their best hitter to top the Phillies. Chris Stratton threw six shutout innings, Joe Panik reached base four times, and the Giants cruised to an easy 4-0 win, getting a bit of revenge for a sweep in Philadelphia last month. 

Here are the details… 

— Stratton got five strikeouts on his curveball, a pitch that appeared to abandon him for much of a rough May. Per Inside Edge, Stratton allowed an MLB-worst slugging percentage of .875 on breaking balls in May. The curveball was much better Friday and helped him put Phillies away as he got ahead in counts. This was his longest outing since May 4. 

— Panik walked in his first plate appearance, singled in his second, walked in his third, and singled again in his fourth. He grounded out to second in his final plate appearance. 

— Gorkys Hernandez went 101 feet to rob Odubel Herrera of at least a double in the fourth. Let this become a theme: That’s a catch Giants center fielders haven’t made very often the last two or three years. 

— Sam Dyson struck out the side in the eighth on 12 pitches. His ERA is down to 2.39. It appears he is next in line for the ninth should something happen with Hunter Strickland, even with Mark Melancon now back. 

— Gregor Blanco once again replaced Mac Williamson defensively in the late innings. Tomorrow’s roster move is going to be very, very interesting. 

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs Lincecum's first no-hitter against Padres


POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs Lincecum's first no-hitter against Padres

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into  at 6pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Marlins conclude, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round! Make your vote count!

1. Brandon Belt's 18th inning homer against the Nationals in 2014 NLDS (14-time winner -- Defeated Giants overcome 7 1/2 game deficit, stun Padres on final day of 2010 season to win NL West)

(From Alex Pavlovic)
By the end of an 18-inning win over the Nationals in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, the Giants were drained in every way. It would be understandable if some of them have few solid memories of the six-hour, 23-minute marathon game, but Brandon Belt will never forget the details. His solo shot off Tanner Roark in the top of the 18th was the difference in a 2-1 win. Four years later, the moment is still fresh in his mind, from his preparation for the at-bat to the emphatic bat drop: 

(From Brandon Belt)
"I remember chugging a Red Bull. It was late into the night and that's tough, it's mentally draining and physically draining to be in a game like that, where you're giving everything you've got to win a baseball game. I was drained at that moment to say the least. I remember chugging a Red Bull and going out there and thinking, 'I'm just going to try and get on base and see what happens.' I remember just not trying to do too much and he gave me a pitch that I could handle, that was kind of in my happy zone. It felt like one of the first home runs I ever hit. It's like you're in Little League and you hit a home run and it's like you're in a dream and it's not real life -- it was kind of the same way. 

"We had just played so long and it was such a big moment in the game, and the fact that I was able to come through and help us win with such a big hit, it was surreal to me. I felt like I was floating around the bases. I think (the bat drop) was relief, more than anything. When I do that I don't really know I do it. It was really just relief. The way the game was going, we had to assume it was over after that. The bullpen had done so well and everyone was so tired. It was going to be tough for (the Nationals) to come back after that.

"We were just ready to go home. We had a long flight after that. We just put so much effort into it and all the guys did so great. Pablo came up with a big hit in the ninth inning and Petit throwing (six shutout) innings. For me, that was the pivotal game of that entire playoffs. We were playing the best team in the NL and to be able to come home up 2-0 was huge."


2. Tim Lincecum's 13-strikeout, 148-pitch no-hitter against the Padres in 2013

(From Alex Pavlovic)

About once a season, Bruce Bochy is put in a tough spot as a pitcher chases history. It happened this March, when Johnny Cueto retired the first 18 batters he faced in his season debut. Asked later about Cueto's pitch count, Bochy smiled and gave the same answer he has for five years. 

"You're talking to someone who let Timmy throw 140-plus pitches," he said. 

It was 148, to be exact. 

Tim Lincecum, who for so long defied the game's conventions, did it once more while throwing a no-hitter in the middle of his downturn. On July 13, 2013, he struck out 13 Padres at Petco Park to get the first of his two no-hitters. He said later that he spent the final innings in a bit of a daze, which didn't break until Buster Posey hit him with a memorable Buster Hug after the 148th and final pitch.  

"I felt it then," Lincecum said. "I had been running on adrenaline the last couple of innings."

In an era where starters are usually pulled short of 100 pitches, Lincecum was at 114 through seven innings. Pitch No. 131 was lined to right with two outs in the eighth, but Hunter Pence made a diving catch. Lincecum met with pitching coach Dave Righetti after the inning and insisted he was fine physically. He clinched his historic moment with a strikeout and two flyouts in the ninth. 

"He's had to deal with a lot, so I couldn't be happier for him," Bochy said that night. "The pitch count put me in a tough spot, but you don't get these opportunities often. I let him go."


Unsung heroes step up as Giants avoid another meltdown against Marlins

Unsung heroes step up as Giants avoid another meltdown against Marlins

SAN FRANCISCO — Can a series victory leave you feeling more concerned about a team than you were when it started?

The Giants tested that possibility for 27 innings this week against the rebuilding Marlins, taking two of three in a series that contained way too much drama, an unnecessary beanball war with an inferior opponent, self-inflicted damage on and off the field, and one last attempt at blowing a lead. 

When it was over, though, there was a handshake line, and there was confidence. First baseman Brandon Belt, who was in the middle of many of the good things the Giants did in a 6-5 win, said he still believes this team has an “it factor.” 

“It seems like we have that, in my perspective,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with unsung heroes.”

We will get to them in a moment, but first … “it factor”?

“We didn’t have the ‘it factor’ last year, just so you know,” Belt said, smiling. “For frame of reference.”

These Giants may yet have a run in them. Perhaps they’ll get Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto back and take off, and we’ll all look back on this as a strange three-day set with a team the for whatever reason has the Giants’ number. If they do reach any sort of glory, it will be because they survived with newfound depth. As Belt said, there are unsung heroes here. 

--- Derek Holland: After his last start in Los Angeles, Holland chastised himself for not going deeper into the game. He did so again Wednesday, despite pitching into the seventh. Holland was charged with three earned in six-plus. Forget the ERA; he has been a reliable presence for a rotation mostly lacking them. 

“I’ve got to keep continuing to use this moomentum,” he said. “I feel I’m progressing.”

--- Holland was on deck when Gorkys Hernandez won a lengthy battle with Jose Ureña, the hard-throwing righty who was so tough on the Giants until a five-run sixth. Hernandez is playing through a painful rib bruise that he suffered in Washington D.C. It flares up on certain swings, and he can’t hide his grimace at times. But that didn’t stop him from taking Ureña’s 14th pitch of the at-bat into right field for a two-run single that put the Giants up 5-1. 

“I just kept yelling at him, ‘Keep going, baby! Let’s go!,’” Holland said.

The Giants have roster issues in the outfield that they’ll need to come to grips to at some point. Perhaps they would have made a move had they dropped Wednesday’s game. But Hernandez is safe as the center fielder. The hit raised his average to .285, and it would be needed. 

“That was the key in the game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He really grinded out that at-bat, 14 pitches, and just came through with a huge hit there.”

--- Ty Blach was the opening day starter. Here is his last week: 6 2/3 innings of relief dominance in a 16-inning win last Thursday; a clean sixth inning in a win last night; a perfect eighth inning to hold a three-run lead Wednesday. Yes, Blach was the setup man for the day, and he excelled. He always seems to when Bochy throws him a new role. 

“He’s always stepping up,” Holland said. “That’s the huge thing he needs to get credit for.”

Holland noted that Blach never complains when moved around. He just does his job. On Monday night, after the blown win, Blach ran laps around the outfield at 10:30 p.m., getting his conditioning in. Two days later, he got the ball to Sam Dyson. 

--- Dyson didn’t end the game with the ball in his right hand. He was pulled after giving up two runs — Hernandez didn’t help by losing a ball in the sun — and putting two more on. So, Reyes Moronta entered and got a strikeout for his first career save. Moronta, a 25-year-old rookie, has a 1.91 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He has been one of the more underrated players for a team that's still in the NL West race. 

“You’re forced at that point to make a move,” Bochy said. “Reyes has done some closing in the minor leagues and he’s got the equipment to do it.”

Perhaps, before long, Moronta will be closing up here. It’s a possibility that seemed far-fetched when the Giants returned home, but then Hunter Strickland tried to put his fist through a door. A lot happened to the Giants this week, but when the series was over, Moronta was pumping his fist and the rest were joining him to shake hands.