Tuesday's victory gives Giants a reminder of how they used to win

Tuesday's victory gives Giants a reminder of how they used to win

SAN FRANCISCO — Giants executives have been meeting every day in recent weeks, and the conversations go far beyond the trade deadline. The front office is trying to figure out if the Giants can still be competitive in this age of home runs and strikeouts. 

The Giants have been left behind in the power department, but Tuesday’s win was a reminder that there’s still another path. It’s harder, but it can be just as rewarding, and it’s simply the way this roster is built. Tuesday was a throwback: A deep outing from the starter, a shutdown night from the bullpen, strong defense, and an opportunistic offense. It added up to a 2-1 win over the Indians in 10 innings. 

Eduardo Nuñez walked it off with a single to right that scored Kelby Tomlinson in the bottom of the 10th, but this one was won much earlier, when Ty Blach continued a positive trend and got through the seventh. Blach became the third Giants starter in four days to record 21 outs, and the previous one — Matt Moore — showed just how tenuous life can be when you’re not built on homers. 

The Giants fell 5-3 in the opener of this series because Moore and Jae-gyun Hwang made crucial errors. They can’t afford to play like that, and a night later, they flipped the switch the other way. Brandon Crawford was spectacular at short and Joe Panik joined him in turning a couple of double plays for Blach. Denard Span chased down a liner in center and Hunter Pence sprawled to grab a bloop. 

In a lost season, perhaps the Giants can take some solace in Tuesday’s win, just their 36th of the year and one that kept them from falling 30 games out in the NL West. They have many of the pieces to win on pitching-and-defense. They just have to, you know, actually do it. 

“It makes life a lot easier,” Bochy said after Blach joined Moore and Bumgarner in getting through seven. “It’s going to be critical for them to get us deep into games and give us a quality starts to help get this thing turned around. It allows you to keep the bullpen fresh and make the moves you want to make.”

Blach gave up just one run in his time, and he said afterward that he has fixed some rotational issues in his delivery. His outing allowed Bochy to shorten his bullpen, and Hunter Strickland pitched a scoreless eighth to lower his ERA to 1.85. Sam Dyson, a revelation since coming over from Texas, pitched two hitless innings to lower his National League ERA to 2.93. 

The Giants cannot see first place or even a playoff spot from where they stand. But they don’t have to squint hard to see the makings of an intriguing bullpen in 2018. Bochy can picture many a night where a starter gets deep and turns a lead over to a bullpen that could be much improved if Dyson is for real and Mark Melancon comes back healthy. It starts with the starters, though. 

“That’s who we are,” Bochy said. “If you look at the success going back to 2010 and even 2009, it’s been the starting pitching.”

Those teams never won by bashing opponents over the head. They scored creatively and took advantage of mistakes. The Giants did both Tuesday. The first run came when Brandon Guyer dropped a fly ball in right, allowing Nuñez to reach second with one out in the sixth. The winning run came after Conor Gillaspie — on his 30th birthday — smoked a pinch-hit double off Edwin Encarnacion’s glove at first. Tomlinson pinch-ran and Denard Span pushed him over and reached on his own with a perfect bunt. 

Nuñez had never before recorded a walk-off hit. He thought he lost his chance when Span stole second. 

“I thought they were going to walk me,” he said. "As soon as Span got to second base, I was like, fuuuuu …"

The Indians did not put him on. Instead, Nuñez sent everyone home.

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Ishikawa's HR wins '14 Pennant vs. Winning '12 World Series


POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Ishikawa's HR wins '14 Pennant vs. Winning '12 World Series

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 Giants Pregame Live at 6 p.m. to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Rockies conclude on Saturday, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on.

1. Travis Ishikawa's walk-off homer wins 2014 NL Pennant (Eight-time winner -- Defeated Tim Lincecum strikes out 10 in 2010 World Series clincher)

(From former Giants third base coach and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Tim Flannery)

After winning a one-game Wild Card showdown in Pittsburgh and then dramatically defeating the heavily favored Washington Nationals 3 games to 1, we found ourselves one series away from another trip to the World Series. After four tough fought games against the St. Louis Cardinals, we were leading the NLCS 3 games to 1 and back in San Francisco with our ace Madison Bumgarner on the mound with a chance to make history once again.

Bum would be facing the Cards veteran ace Adam Wainwright, who was very familiar pitching win-or-go-home games. The Cards struck first,  scoring one in the 3rd inning, but Joe Panik hit a two-run homer to take the lead and get the packed house in China Basin on their feet and going wild. The Cards came right back to quiet the crowd and steal back the momentum with two homers of their own and take back the lead 3- 2. Bumgarner and Wainwright both went into shut down mode retiring the rest of the hitters they saw. With the Cardinals leading by one, relief specialist Pat Neshek took over in the 8th only to surrender a huge pinch-hit homer to Michael Morse who went down and hooked a slider up and out to left field to tie the game.

Santiago Casilla took over in the 9th and after loading the bases, Jeremy Affeldt came in once again and shut down the Cardinals and keep the game tied into the bottom of the 9th. 

With Michael Wacha taking the mound for the Cardinals, the crowd at AT&T came to their feet knowing one run would send us to our 3rd World Series in the last five years. Pablo Sandoval singled to start the inning and with one out, Brandon Belt walked. Joaquin Arias pinch ran for Sandoval. Travis Ishikawa came to the plate to hit and with the count 2-0, he went down and crushed a low, sinking fastball to right field hitting a line drive that looked like it had a chance to get over the head of the right fielder. As the third base coach, I immediately checked my runner at second base, and Árias did the correct thing, going half way on the ball in the air. When I looked back to find the ball, everything went into slow motion and deftly quiet, at least in my head. Then I realized the ball was over the outfielder and we were going to win the Pennant.

At that moment, the quiet in my head erupted into total chaos as the ball continued into the seats for a walk-off, Pennant winning moment that would be part of history forever. Bedlam broke out with Ishikawa running around the bases with his teammates running down the line with him jumping and screaming. Jake Peavy sprinted by me and ran on the field to jump on Travis at second base thinking he hit a double, not a homer to win it. Waiting at home plate, the rest of the team was delirious waiting on Ishikawa to run through the obstacles of people, flying helmets and tears until he touched home plate and sent the Giants to the World Series and his legacy into the history books forever right next to the Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘round the World” as the “Giants win the Pennant, the Giants win the Pennant, the Giants win the Pennant.” 

Fans, friends and family danced and partied on the field and then into the Clubhouse to celebrate all night, still not believing what had just taken place. A very surreal moment that will never be forgotten.


2. Giants sweep Detroit to win 2012 World Series thanks to Marco Scutaro's game-winning hit

(From Alex Pavlovic)

The Giants fought so hard to stay alive early on in the 2012 postseason, but the final steps to a second title in three years ended up being relatively painless. 

After overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the NLCS, the Giants swept the powerful Detroit Tigers, clinching the Series with a 4-3 extra-innings win in Detroit. The Game 4 victory was the seventh straight for the Giants, who outscored the Cardinals and Tigers 38-7 during that stretch. 

"I'm just glad the whole world got to see what this team is about," Ryan Vogelsong said after the World Series. "Starting with Game 5 of the NLDS, we played our best baseball of the season. I always knew we were capable of this."

Appropriately, the final victory came with a comeback. The Giants trailed early after Miguel Cabrera's two-run homer, but grabbed a Game 4 lead when Buster Posey took Max Scherzer deep in the sixth. The Tigers came right back to tie it, setting the stage for one last Marco Scutaro moment. The postseason star drove Ryan Theriot in with a single in the top of the 10th, and Sergio Romo took over from there. 

Romo got Austin Jackson and Don Kelly swinging before freezing Cabrera with one of the most memorable pitches in franchise history, a 2-2 fastball right down the middle. On a cold night in Detroit, the Giants poured out of their dugout to celebrate for the second time. 

"We bought into something you don't see very often," Hunter Pence said. "We bought into playing for each other and loving each other."


Giants rookie Andrew Suarez shows competitiveness when Bruce Bochy pulls him

Giants rookie Andrew Suarez shows competitiveness when Bruce Bochy pulls him

SAN DIEGO — The two rookie pitchers who have helped solidify Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s rotation go about their business in different ways. You can see the fire in Dereck Rodriguez’s eyes as he stands on the mound, and there seems to be a certain intensity with everything he does on the field. Andrew Suarez, on the other hand, often seems to be playing a stress-free game of catch. 

But on Monday, Suarez showed what you knew was there. You don’t get to this level without being ultra-competitive, and the rookie let his guard down for a split-second when Bochy came out with the hook after just 87 pitches en route to a 4-2 win over the Padres. Suarez briefly threw his hands up, and the disappointment was clear on his face as he walked off the field. A few moments later, he found his manager in the dugout. 

“I just apologized to him. I thought I showed him up,” Suarez said. “That’s the last thing I’m trying to do.”

Bochy didn’t mind one bit. 

“I don’t want them to (want to) come out,” he said. “He’s a competitor. We had our guys fresh, [the relievers] have been throwing the ball well.”

Ultimately, Tony Watson got out of the eighth and Will Smith closed out the win. Suarez got the victory, his seventh, and showed a little fire in the process. The Giants knew it was there. It just took a tough decision for it to be made public. 

“My pitch count was low for being that deep in the game,” Suarez said. “I thought I would finish it. I was surprised, but you have to go to the bullpen. We have a good bullpen.”

Suarez said he hoped to match Chris Stratton’s complete game from Friday night, but the Giants are handling Suarez and Rodriguez a bit differently down the stretch, trying to keep some innings off their arms even as they go all the way through the end of September. Bochy liked Mark Melancon against the Padres coming up, regardless of how many pitches Suarez had thrown. 

In the end, it was the best of both worlds for the Giants. They got out of the inning and got the win, and they learned a bit more about a rookie who has been one of the biggest bright spots of a down year. 

“He said it was ok,” Suarez said of his conversation with Bochy. “He liked that I was competitive.”