DENVER — In the ninth inning of a tie game, Kelby Tomlinson tried to put down a suicide squeeze bunt. With Buster Posey at third base.
Yes, it had come to that for the slumping Giants.
Tomlinson -- one of Bochy’s best bunters -- couldn’t get it down, but two pitches later he lined a fastball into left field to bring the go-ahead run in. The Giants were looking at rock bottom, and Tomlinson, who spent most of the second half in the minors following a thumb injury, temporarily provided a break. A 3-2 come-from-behind win over the Rockies kept the Giants from falling behind the Cardinals in the Wild Card race.
This one was not particularly pretty. Players will not tell their grandkids about the night they scored three runs at Coors Field, with two coming after misplays by Colorado’s infielders. But this team is in no position to be picky about wins, and there were positives other than the final score. Bochy noted that the energy in the dugout was far better than in Monday’s loss, when the team looked flat.
“I think we kind of turned a corner energy-wise, it felt like,” Tomlinson said. “Even leading up to the game it was like that. We kept grinding and grinding.”
The Giants held a hitters-only meeting before the game and players said that helped provide a boost. It didn’t matter early on against Tyler Anderson, a good young lefty. The lone run through seven innings was an Eduardo Nuñez homer, but Jeff Samardzija was up to the challenge.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Giants do just enough to beat Rockies]
The right-hander allowed two runs in seven innings. In three career starts at Coors Field, Samardzija has allowed five earned runs. He said he focuses on avoiding walks here, knowing that an extra baserunner is a death sentence. Samardzija regularly hit 97 mph while piling up nine strikeouts, and he said his fastball was just about as good as it’s been all year.
“It wasn’t the Reds (start) early in the year but it was pretty good,” he said. “I thought the location was the best thing about it.”
Samardzija issued just one walk, but his big night didn’t lead to a personal win. The Giants did pull it out, though, despite several missed opportunities. Before the eighth-inning rally, the Giants got the leadoff hitter on three consecutive times and failed to score. The first of those innings was kicked off by a Tomlinson walk. He was picked off. Tomlinson said the moment killed him because he knows he’s up here in September in part to pinch-run.
Tomlinson got a shot at redemption, but first the Giants had to tie the game. The Rockies turned a potential double play into a two-on, no-outs situation in the eighth. A bunt and grounder to short tied the game.
An inning later, Daniel Descalso’s throwing error put Posey on second. Descalso failed to get Hunter Pence at first on a slow roller to short, and the Giants suddenly had the corners full. As the Rockies made a pitching change, Bochy called Tomlinson over and again went over the signs. Bochy wasn’t scared away from a squeeze attempt just because Posey was at third.
“I was thinking of pinch-running for him but he’s a good baserunner,” Bochy said. “I was comfortable with it. If Kelby gets it down, I felt good about it.”
Tomlinson wouldn’t get the bunt down, but he got Posey in anyway. Bochy joked that the single made up for getting picked off.
“He saved himself from a fine there,” Bochy said.
The Giants still were not out of the woods, but Bochy didn’t hesitate in calling for Santiago Casilla in the ninth. The closer picked up his seventh blown save on Sunday and Bochy was coy about the ninth inning when asked Monday morning. Casilla walked the second batter he faced but a double play ended the game.
“You know, I know he’s had some hiccups, but they all have,” Bochy said. “It’s the nature of being in the bullpen. You’ve got to stay behind him.”
Casilla appreciated the support and the opportunity for redemption.
“In that game (on Sunday) my team needed me the most and I did not do my job,” he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I felt I let the whole team down. After having an outing like that, I wanted to come out and do my job. When I see that my manager has confidence in me, it makes me want to keep my head up high. He’s in charge and he knows me. We’ve been together six years or so and he’s like a father to me. Whatever decision he makes, I’m going to go for it.”