SAN FRANCISCO – Good teams don’t care how they win. And bad teams?
They’re even less discriminating.
A sellout crowd did not meet the Giants’ ninth walk-off win with an eruption. It was more a buzz of confusion as Marco Scutaro took a fourth consecutive pitch out of the strike zone from Red Sox right-hander Brayan Villareal with the bases loaded.
It was a walk-off walk for the Giants, all right – and a 3-2 victory that they’ll take home and cut off the price tags before even trying it on.
It was the Giants’ first walk-off win since June 22. They had seven of them in April and May. And for most of the night, the last thing you’d expect from them would be a comeback win against one of the AL’s top teams.
Twice they had a runner at third base with no outs, and twice they stranded them. But Brandon Belt finished a homer away from the cycle and Roger Kieschnick singled three times to start rallies – including his hit in the ninth that led to the winning run.
Pinch hitter Andres Torres drew a two-out walk, pinch hitter Hector Sanchez was hit on the left hand by a pitch after being down 0-2 to Franklin Morales, and Scutaro left his bat on his shoulders four times against Villareal.
Starting pitching report
If they held a single-elimination tournament to find the most ornery pitcher in the major leagues, Ryan Vogelsong and Jake Peavy might meet where the brackets end.
Both right-handers will stretch counts to 3-2. They’ll pitch around threats. With a runner at third base and less than two outs, they’ll snort and stomp and draw a line in the dirt.
So it seemed fitting that neither pitcher received a decision Tuesday night. Although Peavy left with a 2-1 lead, it ended in a stalemate for both right-handers.
Vogelsong held a potent Red Sox lineup to two runs in seven innings. A good start, right? Well, it was even more impressive when you consider how it began.
Vogelsong appeared headed for an early knockout. The Red Sox loaded the bases with nobody out in the first inning after a hit batter and two singles, including one that easily could’ve been an error on second baseman Marco Scutaro.
Mike Carp hit a sacrifice fly and the Red Sox loaded them up again with one more infield hit that found a seam on the right side of the infield. But Vogelsong went to his curveball to escape the threat, getting a shallow fly out and a comebacker.
But he had to grind again in the third. Shane Victorino hit a 2-2 fastball off the top of the ambulance beyond the left field fence to start the inning and give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. It was just an 88 mph pitch, and it appeared that Vogelsong’s lack of life would lead to a pummeling.
Vogelsong began to hit spots more dependably, though. He retired rookie Xander Bogaerts for the second time, getting a grounder to short. The phenom began his career 0 for 2 with five left on base.
Starting with Bogaerts, Vogelsong retired 13 of the last 14 batters he faced. He struck out five, and despite working many deep counts, he only walked one.
Santiago Casilla pitched around a single in the eighth inning and Sergio Romo needed just 10 pitches to record three ground outs, once again leaning on his emerging sinker.
Romo is 4-6 after receiving the decision.
At the plate
Those were not chances that the Giants passed up. Those were bunches upon bunches of low-hanging fruit.
What could be easier to score than a leadoff triple? Yet somehow the Giants managed to keep Belt stuck fast to third base in the fourth inning. Buster Posey grounded to third base, then Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford struck out.
They did it again in the fifth. Kieschnick singled and Joaquin Arias hit a pitch into the left field corner that rattled around for a triple that cut the Red Sox’s lead to 2-1. But with the infield crowding the plate, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made a diving stop on Vogelsong’s grounder. Gregor Blanco hit an easier bouncing ball to Pedroia for the second out. And Scutaro couldn’t beat out a chopper off the plate. The 37-year-old sprinted down the line and tried a headfirst slide – then spiked his helmet after first base umpire Dan Belino called him out. Even on replays, it was hard to tell if the throw from shortstop beat him. But manager Bruce Bochy didn’t argue it.
Belt hit a leadoff double in the sixth but oddly didn’t advance on Posey’s ground out. Pence flied out and Crawford grounded out to end the inning.
When you blow that many chances to score, you deserve your fate.
But the Giants created one more chance in the eighth. Scutaro singled and took third on Belt’s single into the left field corner. Then Posey followed with a foul fly down the right field line that Shane Victorino caught near the wall.
Could Victorino have let it drop? Maybe, but it’s hard to give away an out in that situation – even if it resulted in Posey’s first RBI in 10 games.
Then came the ninth, and the walk-off walk.
Pedroia’s play on Vogelsong saved a run in the fifth. Peavy appeared to roll his ankle while releasing the ball, which might explain why he was pulled in the sixth with just 92 pitches.
The Giants announced 41,551 paid – and bravo, you loyal Giants fans who turned down the chance to sell your tickets to Sox Nation.
The Giants and Red Sox complete their three-game interleague series Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park. Barry Zito (4-8, 5.34) returns to the rotation against left-hander Felix Doubront (8-6, 3.95). First pitch is scheduled for 12:45 p.m. PDT.