SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Crawford grew up in the Bay Area and was taught at a young age to dislike the Dodgers. Trevor Brown grew up in Southern California and was taught at a young age to root for the Dodgers.
Together, the two led the Giants to a stunning victory Friday night. Brown broke up a no-hit bid with his first career homer, a two-run blast that came moments after Ross Stripling was removed as he chased history. Crawford sent the raucous and soaked crowd home happy with an opposite field homer in the bottom of the 10th that gave the Giants a 3-2 win.
When it was over, Brown walked back into the clubhouse and found 60-plus text messages waiting.
“Yeah, I grew up a Dodgers fan,” he said, smiling. “But when I got drafted by the Giants, I became a Giants fan. I’ve been all Giants since that day. It was really cool being out there. I know a lot of people back home were watching.”
For most of the night, Brown’s childhood friends watched and waited for history. In his first start above Double-A, Stripling was dominant. He got a little help from his sliding outfielders as he aimed to become the first pitcher since the great Bumpus Jones in 1892 to throw a no-hitter in his debut.
Stripling, who had Tommy John surgery in 2014, walked four. When Angel Pagan drew a free pass on Stripling’s 100th pitch, Dave Roberts walked to the mound and quickly pulled his rookie. Roberts, managing his fifth game, didn’t regret the decision.
“Under no circumstance am I going to even consider putting his future in jeopardy,” he told reporters, per the Los Angeles Times.
Stripling said it was the right choice. “I was tired,” he said.
The Giants happily felt it was the right move, too. They have often times in recent years had trouble with pitchers they haven’t seen before, and Stripling gave certain hitters fits. Brown had two strikeouts when he came up to face Chris Hatcher, the new pitcher, in the eighth. The no-hitter was intact when Brown blasted a fastball into the rainy night.
“I was just saying, ‘Go ball! Come on!'” Brown said. “I’m not necessarily a power hitter. I thought, oh it’s raining, I might have had a homer except for the rain. I almost fell coming out of the box, but when I saw it land, that was one of my most memorable moments in baseball.”
AT&T Park shook as the ball hit the seats. The no-hitter was gone, the game was tied. Matt Cain, who pitched well in six innings, would not take the loss. Cain was charged with two earned.
“Brownie and I got in a good rhythm early,” he said. “I was really happy with it. I felt the ball was coming off my hand really well.”
Cain wouldn’t make any grand statements, saying simply that this was “my first start of the season.” It’s the first week and already it has been an incredible one for the Giants. They’re 4-1, 2-0 against the Dodgers, who now have a manager who is answering tough questions one week in.
“It’s definitely tough,” Cain said. “Being on the pitcher’s side of it, that’s a hard one to have to give the ball per in that situation, but you never know what’s going on. That’s in their clubhouse, that’s their business. Luckily we were able to capitalize.”
Crawford was the one who clinched it. The walk-off was the second of his career. The first was a no-doubter into the water in 2014, but this one had to fight the atmosphere a little on a very rainy night by AT&T Park’s standards. Crawford knew he hit it well, though.
“If that one wasn’t going out, I’m not hitting an oppo homer this year,” he said, smiling.
The blast made a winner of Santiago Casilla and a loser of Joe Blanton. Stripling, who has never allowed a big league hit, took a no-decision.
“It was crazy to think this was his debut,” Brown said.