DETROIT – Three seasons ago at Comerica Park, Barry Zito surprised everyone by waiting out a rain delay of nearly three hours and returning to throw three more innings.
Jake Peavy and Barry Zito might be made of the same stuff.
The Giants found themselves back in Detroit and scurrying off the field with a 6-0 lead in the third inning. Just as Zito did, Peavy got back on the mound and pitched three more innings to lead the Giants to an 8-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers Friday night.
Gregor Blanco tripled, doubled and made a diving catch – with an error mixed in – and Pablo Sandoval hit yet another home run against the Tigers as the Giants won their first game in eight tries in AL ballparks this season.
Starting pitching report
What an addition Peavy has been to the Giants. He has a 2.36 ERA in eight starts since coming over from the Red Sox, and there wasn’t a way to put a price on his deeds Friday night.
Peavy held the Tigers to one hit and had just completed a 1-2-3 third inning with the Giants up 6-0 when a sudden storm hit Comerica Park. The game resumed two hours and 42 minutes later.
Tigers starter Rick Porcello didn’t return. Peavy did. And the delay between pitches was even longer for Peavy, since the Giants scored a run on two hits and an error in the top of the fourth.
The similarities to July 2, 2011 were eerie. That day, the Giants were playing a rare interleague series game at Comerica Park. Zito was pitching with a 6-0 lead in the third inning – sound familiar? -- when a violent thunderstorm hit. The delay that night was almost identical: two hours, 36 minutes.
And Zito came back to pitch three more innings, six in all, holding the Tigers to five hits and no earned runs.
Peavy’s line? Six innings, six hits, no earned runs.
George Kontos began to get loose after Peavy allowed two singles to start the fourth. But second baseman Joe Panik adeptly started a double play after fielding Victor Martinez’s grounder, and J.D. Martinez struck out to end it.
The Tigers scored two unearned runs on Peavy in the fifth after Blanco committed an error in left field. (More on that below). But with one out remaining to make it a regulation game, Peavy and catcher Buster Posey held a conference on the mound. Then Peavy snapped a pickoff throw that caught Ian Kinsler off guard to end the inning.
Peavy came out for one more inning and pitched around a single, striking out Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez. All three of his strikeouts came after the delay and now has 2,008 in his career. Teammate Tim Hudson has 2,007.
Peavy has allowed one earned run over his last three starts. After going 0-12 over a string of 18 assignments, he has won four of his last five.
If Peavy had come out to pitch the seventh, he would have been pitching in a game on Saturday that he began on Friday. That would’ve been cool. But what he did was impressive enough.
Kontos pitched two shutout innings and Tim Lincecum pitched the ninth.
Back in the 2012 World Series, Lincecum threw 4 2/3 no-hit innings against the Tigers and struck out eight. He struck out one and didn’t allow a baserunner this time.
At the plate
The Giants have 100 hits in their last seven games, and yes, that’s 100 as in there are 100 pennies in a dollar.
They jumped on Porcello, hitting mistakes and picking some pitches out of the dirt as well while scoring a run in the first inning, three in the second and two more in the third to build a 6-0 lead prior to the delay.
Sandoval opened the scoring by reaching out for a pitch an inch off the ground and serving it to left field to score Angel Pagan.
Blanco, who entered with a .379 average over an eight-game hitting streak, started the second-inning rally with a triple and scored on Travis Ishikawa’s single. Adam Duvall singled, Brandon Crawford sacrificed the runners to second and third, Pagan hit an RBI ground out and Panik drove in another run before getting thrown out trying to advance following the throw home.
Buster Posey singled to start the third inning, then Hunter Pence extended his hit streak to 17 games with a single. Blanco stayed hot with an RBI double, and with two outs, Crawford hit a comebacker off Porcello’s foot for a single that drove in another run.
With Crawford’s single, every one of the Giants’ starting nine had a hit against Porcello. And it was just the third inning.
The Giants scored again on an error in the fourth and Sandoval hit a solo homer in the sixth. Sandoval also homered in the Zito game here three years ago. He homered against the Tigers three times in Game 1 of the World Series, of course. So … Pandas > Tigers.
Blanco’s on a foul fly Wednesday at Colorado was removed by the official scorer earlier in the day, reestablishing his errorless streak at 306 games – the longest current run among all NL outfielders.
So, of course, he made an error on Friday.
First, though, Blanco made a diving catch to take away a bloop single from Victor Martinez in the first inning. The error came in the fifth, when he might have lost Bryan Holaday’s line drive in the lights and it clanked off his glove.
Panik was the other defensive star, making all manner of tough plays look easy. His most impressive work came in the eighth when he made a diving catch of Cabrera’s line drive up the middle, then threw to first base to double off Kinsler.
The Tigers announced 31,940 paid. At least 940 were left at the end. And … there were postgame fireworks. At 12:40 a.m. Really.
The Giants and Tigers continue their three-game series on Saturday at Comerica Park. Madison Bumgarner (16-9, 2.97 ERA) takes the mound against Tigers left-hander David Price (13-10, 3.25). First pitch is scheduled for 10:08 a.m. PDT.