Walter Mencken 11 a.m., May 24
Padres prevail over Giants in wild extra-innings game
Thanks in part to Yonder Alonso's three doubles and an error in the bottom of the twelfth inning, the Padres beat the Giants
After a crisp 2-1 game on Friday evening that was played in 2 hours and 19 minutes, conventional thinking could have concluded that Saturday would produce another low-scoring gem of a pitching duel between Eric Stults of the Padres and Barry Zito for the Giants. But baseball is a funny game sometimes, as Saturday’s contest featured 15 total runs, and went 12 innings and lasted exactly two extra hours to complete and the Padres prevailed by the score of 8-7 over the Giants.
The Giants struck in the top of the second inning off of Stults, when Buster Posey opened the inning with a walk but was forced at second base when Andres Torres grounded into a fielder’s choice. One out later, Stults plunked Brandon Belt with a slow curve ball.
Brandon Crawford then came to the plate and took a first pitch slider off of Stults and deposited it into the Petco Porch in right field for a home run. The Giants jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the Padres.
In the bottom of the second inning with one out, Kyle Blanks singled to center field and Yonder Alonso hit a ground rule double that bounced over the left field wall, putting Blanks at third base. Jedd Gyorko then ran the count full against Barry Zito before striking out on a change-up and Nick Hundley then struck out on a Zito curve ball and an opportunity was wasted.
The Giants added on in the third inning when Angel Pagan led off with a single to center field and an out later, Pablo Sandoval doubled to left field. The ball then kicked off of the glove of Carlos Quentin and Pagan scored.
Buster Posey then followed with a sharp double to right field, plating Sandoval. After two and a half innings, the Giants were up 5-0 over the Padres, and the game appeared to be getting out of hand for San Diego.
But in the Padres fourth inning with one out, Carlos Quentin reached second on a two-base error by Andres Torres, who appeared to simply miss a catchable ball. Kyle Blanks then singled to left field, planting Quentin at third base, still with only one out.
Yonder Alonso then smacked his second double of the game into left-center field, scoring Quentin and Blanks. Alonso then took third base on a Zito wild pitch, and after Jedd Gyorko grounded out to third, Nick Hundley drew a walk.
Jesus Guzman pinch-hit for Eric Stults and singled to center field, driving in Alonso, and then Chris Denorfia came up and doubled home Hundley and Guzman. Zito was replaced on the mound with Chad Gaudin and Everth Cabrera hit a single into center field and drove in Denorfia, and after four innings the Padres led 6-5 over the Giants.
The lead didn’t last long. In the top of the fifth with Anthony Bass on in relief, Marco Scutaro singled to center with one out. After Pablo Sandoval flied out to center field, Buster Posey singled to right, with Scutaro taking third base.
That set the table for Hunter Pence who tripled into the right field corner just out of the reach of Kyle Blanks, plating Posey and Scutaro. The Giants jumped back on top, 7-6.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Chase Headley opened with a double into the right field corner, and George Kontos replaced Gaudin. Carlos Quentin hit a fly ball deep to center field and Headley tagged and went to third.
Kyle Blanks stroked a single up the middle and Headley came home to tie the game. At the end of seven full innings it was 7-7.
Santiago Casilla relieved for the Giants in the bottom of the eighth inning and Jedd Gyorko drew a walk. Nick Hundley tried to sacrifice Gyorko to second but failed, instead safe at first on the fielder’s choice that erased Gyorko at second base.
Mark Kotsay then pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot and drew a walk, moving Hundley to second base, still with only one out. Chris Denorfia flied out to right and Everth Cabrera was out on a slow roller and the game was still tied going into the ninth inning.
After Huston Street came in and dispatched the Giants in the top of the ninth, Jean Machi pitched for the Giants and allowed a lead-off walk to Chase Headley. He then struck out Carlos Quentin and Kyle Blanks and then picked off Headley to end the inning.
Meanwhile, Dale Thayer came in to relieve Street and pitched a scoreless tenth and eleventh inning while Machi continued to get out of any trouble the Padres presented him. In the bottom of the eleventh inning, Chris Denorfia led off by beating out a little chopper in front of home plate for an infield single and Everth Cabrera hit into a fielder’s choice, with Denorfia out at second base.
Chase Headley chopped a ball to first base and was tagged out, with Cabrera taking second base. Buddy Black then used his last position player in John Baker to pinch hit in the pitcher’s spot and Baker flied out to right field.
Joe Thatcher pitched out of trouble in the top of the twelfth inning, allowing a single with one out and another single with two outs, and then threw a wild pitch and the runners advanced to second and third. Pablo Sandoval came to the plate and hit a ground out to end the inning.
Thatcher likely wouldn’t have gone another inning, and Robbie Erlin – who has yet to see action in the major leagues – was warming in the bullpen and there wasn’t any players left on the bench. “As the game goes, you can see that happening,” manager Buddy Black said after the game when asked about his bench and bullpen being depleted.
“But you keep playing, you use your guys as needed and if you get to the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth inning, you’re down to no position players, and that’s it. We had Robbie Erlin at the end, who is capable of going multiple innings, so as far as continuing the game with a fresh pitcher, we were fine.”
The Padres had another chance in the bottom of the twelfth when with one out, Yonder Alonso doubled into the gap and Jedd Gyorko singled Alonso to third. Nick Hundley then hit a ball that by all accounts should have been a double-play ball but Marco Scutaro, who is otherwise sure-handed at second base, failed to field the ball and Alonso scored to end the game.
“We caught a break there,” Black said. “Scutaro is a pretty steady defender and that ball might have had a little English on it, like maybe it came up just a tad. I like the at bats that Gyorko and Alonso had prior to that. We put it in play, we caught a break.”
For Yonder Alonso, the double in the twelfth inning was his third of the game. “That seems to be Yonder’s stroke, when he’s driving the ball to left-center. He has the ability to pull the ball, there’s no doubt about it, he has power to all fields, but that stroke that he showed tonight – the ball away that he drives to left-center – that’s a big part of his game,” Black said.
When asked about the team fighting back from being five runs down early, first baseman Yonder Alonso said, “I think it’s a good thing anytime you get a win, but to do it against a good team like the Giants with a good pitching staff, it’s great. Tonight was a good night. I was just glad I was on base in that last inning, because it felt like for a second there our hitting was on pause. We weren’t getting too many hits and they were playing good defense, and I think it was great in general, obviously, to just get on base and put pressure on the pitcher.”
And with Scutaro’s error, indeed the Padres caught a break, a big break. It was a break that ensured taking the series against the Giants and an opportunity to gain a series sweep on Sunday.
The last member of the Padres to get three doubles in a game? You guessed it, Yonder Alonso did it on July 30, 2012. In Padres franchise history, it has been accomplished 37 times. No Padre has doubled four times or more in a game.
Kyle Blanks had three hits in Saturday’s contest, the second time he has accomplished that in his career (the first time was April 12, 2010). Jedd Gyorko and Chris Denorfia collected two hits each.
Saturday’s attendance was 38,823, a nice-sized crowd at Petco Park, even for a Saturday. It seemed as though there was a slight majority of Giants fans in attendance, or else it was about even and the San Francisco fans were simply louder than fans of the Friars. When the Giants are in town, one activity for the otherwise bored is to spot the Giants fans, regardless of whether they are wearing team gear or colors. It’s easy to do. Regardless of the temperature, Giants fan sports long pants and sensible shoes, a shirt with a sweater and a jacket plus the scarf and the hat. The Padres faithful – even on the chilly nights – usually wear shorts and flip-flops on the feet with a skimpy tank top, hat optional.
Before striking out in the sixth inning, Giants reliever Chad Gaudin was 1 for 41 lifetime in a major league career that began in 2003 and spans ten teams. The one hit that Gaudin got in 46 plate appearances? He pitched for the Padres in 2009, starting 19 games that season. In fact, 30 of Gaudin’s 46 plate appearances were with the Padres that season before the Yankees bought his contract in August of that season.
Sunday, the series finale will be played as the Padres will offer Jason Marquis (1-2, 4.63) while Ryan Vogelsong (1-1, 5.68) will start for the Giants. Game time is slated for 1:10 PM PDST, carried on radio 1090 AM (860 AM in Spanish) and televised on Fox Sports San Diego.
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