Trepidation for Giants, followed by relief (with a little trepidation)
It seems this year that nothing comes easily for the San Francisco Giants.
The day started Wednesday with more concerning injury news. Already having to put Carlos Beltran (hand) and Sergio Romo (elbow) on the disabled list and unsure of P Jonathan Sanchez will be able to make his next start, the Giants sent reliever Brian Wilson to see Dr. James Andrews to have his sore elbow examined.
As it turned out, Wilson is only being troubled by elbow inflammation and will be sidelined a couple of days to allow his elbow to cool off. We’d be surprised if Wilson pitches at all the rest of the road trip.
And then the Giants went out and got a key win over the Braves — gaining a game in the standings on the Diamondbacks in the process — even though that win didn’t come with out drama.
The Giants were sailing heading into the bottom of the ninth with a 7-1 lead. Even though their streak of seven consecutive games with a home run was snapped, they did tie a franchise record with four sacrifice flies (one each from Cody Ross, Matt Cain, Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huff). That gave the Giants six sac flies in the series against the Braves, moving them from 23rd in the majors in that category to a tie for 10th.
But the Braves rallied for four runs in the ninth to make things interesting. But the rally was really fueled by shaky defense than bad pitching.
Dan Runzler entered in the top of the ninth. Runzler wasn’t especially sharp, but he didn’t get pounded either. He gave up a leadoff single to Freddie Freeman, got Chipper Jones to fly out, walked Brooks Conrad before getting Julio Lugo to ground into a force out. Then Jason Heyward singled to score the first run.
Jeremy Affeldt relieved Runzler and got Michael Bourn to fist a low pop behind the mound. A charging Orlando Cabrera got to the ball, but had it clank off the heel of his glove for a run-scoring error. Then Martin Prado then hit the ball well into center, but it really should have been caught. Cody Ross took a bad line to the ball, which allowed it to fall for a two-run double. Affeldt ended the game by striking out Brian McCann, who represented the tying run.
So, as it turned out, the two add-on runs in the ninth by the Giants on sac flies from Sandoval and Huff proved to be huge.
The win was key because it meant the Giants will leave Atlanta, at the very worst, 3.5 games out of first in the NL West.
Staying close is important, because after the Giants leave Atlanta, the only team left on their schedule with a winning record is the Diamondbacks, who the Giants face six more times this season.
The winning percentage of the teams left on the Giants’ schedule after Thursday is .422. The winning percentage of the teams left on Arizona’s schedule is .470.