Programming note: Giants-Pirates coverage starts Tuesday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (Channel Locations)
Michael Morse nearly broke his back, and it would’ve been all Jean Machi’s fault.
Morse got so caught up cheering when Machi thundered down the line and beat out a sacrifice bunt that he nearly flipped over the dugout rail. That’s how happy the Giants were to escape Pittspurgatory in a manic, memorable 11-10, 13-inning victory at PNC Park Monday night.
Or Tuesday morning, technically. It was after midnight when the Giants pulled ahead on a walk, a hit batter and a bunt from a surprisingly swift relief pitcher. Machi, making his second career plate appearance, put down a perfect bunt that advanced the runners – and when Pirates pitcher Jared Hughes threw the ball in the dirt for an error, Hunter Pence raced home.
Watching Pence and Machi run? That was worth 5 ½ hours to see in the end.
The Giants arrived having swept a three-game series at Atlanta despite not getting a single hit with runners in scoring position – the first major league team to pull that off since 1969?
They went about it in a totally different way this time. They arrived in Pittsburgh, uncork the bottle, went 8 for 18 with runners in scoring position, collected 20 hits to complete a six-run comeback and rallied for one more tying run in the ninth.
Oh, and your NL wins leaders with five: Adam Wainwright, Zack Greinke and Jean Machi.
Starting pitching report
Maybe the Giants should’ve waited until batting practice to tell Yusmeiro Petit he was starting.
Last Tuesday, Petit did just fine with no notice. He tossed six scoreless innings after Matt Cain cut his index finger while making a pre-batting practice ham’n’cheese. The Giants thought Cain could return in the series opener at Pittsburgh but the cut threatened to pop open when he tried to throw Sunday in Atlanta. So the Giants put Cain on the disabled list Sunday night and asked Petit to bring his caulking gun again.
This time it got messy. Petit was charged with eight runs in 4.1 innings, although three of them scored after he departed.
The Pirates struck like a sudden thunderstorm for four runs in the third inning, with Pedro Alvarez’s three-run home run accounting for most of the damage.
The Pirates started a fresh rally in the fifth when Andrew McCutchen doubled off the chalk line, although it took a successful replay challenge and an overturned call. Then Alvarez’s bat shattered on a blooper that fell in front of center fielder Angel Pagan to score a run. The Pirates picked on Pagan some more, as Starling Marte cranked a double over Pagan’s head that short-hopped the wall. Petit issued an intentional walk to Ike Davis, turning over a 5-2 game and three baserunners to the bullpen.
Petit threw 92 pitches in 4.1 innings. He threw just 72 to get through six innings in his previous start.
Either Bruce Bochy has a short memory, a cruel streak or an unshakeable confidence that lightning cannot strike in the same place three times.
He had Jake Dunning make his 2014 debut with the bases loaded. A year ago, Dunning gave up two home runs and both were grand slams (to Jedd Gyorko and Marlon Byrd). And Dunning had arrived in Pittsburgh after rising before dawn to catch a flight out of Albuquerque.
Dunning didn’t give up a slam, but he did throw two run-scoring wild pitches and allowed a sacrifice fly. That was sloppier than a slam, even if it accounted for three runs on the board instead of four.
It was a rare off night for almost everyone in the bullpen. The relievers were unable to throw shutdown innings after the Giants rallied for runs in the sixth and seventh. Juan Gutierrez gave up a run in the sixth when Jordy Mercer doubled and scored on Neil Walker’s ground out. The chopper grazed the top of Gutierrez’s glove, narrowly denying him a shot at getting the out at the plate.
After the Giants tied it in the seventh, Gutierrez couldn’t close out the bottom of the inning. Following a two-out walk and a single, Jeremy Affeldt entered and got a ground ball from pinch hitter Jose Tabata. But it deflected off the mound and it took a layout dive up the middle from shortstop Brandon Crawford to knock it down. Crawford tried a shovel pass with his glove to Brandon Hicks to get the force at second base, but the ball dribbled wide. Hicks whirled and threw home, but Ike Davis’s foot arrived at the plate just ahead of Hector Sanchez’s tag as the Pirates went up 10-9.
The bullpen held serve after that. Jean Machi survived a single and an odd fielder’s choice when a throw struck umpire Gerry Davis – yes, in a pinball game, the umpire became a bumper – before escaping the 11th inning.
At the plate
The Giants lineup underwent an identity transplant somewhere at 30,000 feet over the Appalachians.
How else to explain a team that hit seven homers in Atlanta, yet didn’t get a single hit with runners in scoring position in three games at Turner Field, suddenly bingeing on RBI singles and doubles?
The Giants grabbed a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning when Michael Morse doubled in Buster Posey and scored on Hector Sanchez’s single. That was a good omen, since the Giants were 16-1 when scoring first.
But this game didn’t go to script. Their biggest comeback in nearly a year began in the sixth inning, when they scored five runs on six hits. Brandon Hicks hit a two-run double and Brandon Crawford might have made the hardest contact in the inning, but his drive to the gap in right-center turned into a sacrifice fly when Andrew McCutchen ran it down.
The Giants completed the comeback in a two-run seventh inning. Hunter Pence hit a one-out single, advanced on a wild pitch and Posey drew a walk when the Pirates didn’t challenge him. Pirates manager Clint Hurdle made a curious move to replace left-hander Justin Wilson with another lefty, Tony Watson, to face Morse. Watson had good numbers against right-handers but Morse blew up the move with an RBI double. Sanchez followed with a two-strike RBI single that tied the game 9-9.
But they couldn’t score again, and they emptied their bench after Bochy pinch-ran for Posey and Morse and double-switched Pablo Sandoval out of the game.
The Giants wasted Pagan’s leadoff single and stolen base in the 10th. With the Giants out of position players, Madison Bumgarner made his first career pinch-hitting appearance and hit a soft liner back to the mound to end the inning.
Both managers used a replay challenge. The Giants fell to 5-2 when they unsuccessfully appealed a tag play on Starling Marte’s stolen base in the third inning. Marte was stranded after a pop-up and a strikeout, but the Giants lost the ability to challenge again.
The Pirates’ successful challenge on McCutchen’s chalk-cloud double in the fifth turned out to make a bigger impact.
The Giants and Pirates continue their three-game series at PNC Park on Tuesday. Tim Hudson (4-1, 2.17 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Charlie Morton (0-4, 4.21). First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 p.m. PDT.