SAN DIEGO -- Like some of the Giants outfielders, Brandon Crawford has taken to working out in a t-shirt that says “Mr. Steal Your Hit.” After Thursday’s performance, Crawford may need to make the last world plural.
The shortstop was everywhere for the Giants on Thursday, saving one hit after another until Justin Maxwell could drive him in with a 12th inning single. Crawford scored the game’s only run, but it was his glove that caught the attention of his starting pitcher.
“He truly amazes me,” right-hander Tim Hudson said. “He’s one of the best I’ve played with. He just makes so many great plays. He’s a wizard over there at shortstop. He makes all the routine plays and makes the tough plays look routine. That’s the true mark of a good shortstop. For a guy like me, keeping the ball down and pitching to contact, he’s a breath of fresh air.”
Crawford cleanly fielded all six balls to short and was part of three double-plays on a night he had eight assists. The highlight came when he dived and glove-flipped to Joe Panik to start a double play that got Hudson out of a fifth inning jam. The Padres had put the first two runners on but Crawford and Panik helped keep the game scoreless. Later, Crawford alertly picked up a liner that had ticked off Casey McGehee’s glove and threw to second for a force.
[Instant Replay: Giants squeak by Padres in extras]
“I like being active on defense,” Crawford said. “That means (Hudson) is getting lots of ground balls for us. He looked sharp, all his pitches looked good, he was running the ball in and cutting it.”
The Giants expect nights like this from Crawford, but they weren’t sure what to expect from Hudson when he showed up at spring training still rehabbing after ankle surgery. The first start of the season was a smashing success: Hudson walked five but gave up just five hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
“Boy, he threw well, didn’t he?” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Hudson did a nice job. He came to camp behind but caught up at the end.”
The Giants have now gotten three strong starts from a rotation that appeared in tatters when the season started. They needed the effort Thursday, as Odrisamer Despaigne and the Padres bullpen held tough until Maxwell’s go-ahead single in the 12th. Maxwell said he didn’t feel any pressure to step up for his new teammates.
“My season started as soon as spring training started, I had to perform to get on this team,” he said. “They gave me the opportunity. There’s definitely no pressure.”
Maxwell wasn’t surprised the Giants pulled out the gutty win, noting that he saw the same never-say-die attitude from the opposing dugout in past years. The rebuilt Padres buckled down too on Thursday, showing that they’ll be a force in this division through the end.
“You could tell both teams wanted it real bad,” said George Kontos, credited with the win. “This is one of those divisions this year where everything will be a dogfight.”
— Casey McGehee was twice almost the goat, making two errors in the late innings. Kontos said McGehee came up and said “my bad” both times. “I said, hey, it happens, let it go,” Kontos said. “We’ve got an inning to finish … when something like that happens, you have to bear down.” The Giants remain confident, Kontos said, that McGehee will win them plenty of games this season.
—- So, about that whole Pagan-Norris thing. It really was pretty silly. The explanation is here. My favorite part is the home plate ump warning both benches because of an argument that started over a piece of gum. Tripp Gibson III missed a few calls, too, and later threw a batter out of the game with two outs in the bottom of the 12th. Good times.
—- Bochy went with Maxwell over Brandon Belt because it wasn’t worth the injury risk and he liked Maxwell’s at-bats in Arizona. He added: “Of course, Bumgarner was down there waiting, too.” Of course.