In typical Bruce Bochy-fashion, the G-men once again refused to quit last night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX, winning for the 15th time in their past 19 games. And the Giants spoiled the debut of just acquired Cole Hamels, beating the Rangers 9-7 in 11 innings.
This is one of those games that we might look back on after the season, when the Giants willed a victory, refusing to take a loss, putting a stamp on this 2015 season. Yes, this team is determined to win back to back World Championships, which would make four in the past six years, and put them in elite company with the New York Yankees.
Hunter Pence led off the 11th inning with a home run, his sixth of the year, to put the Giants ahead to stay, 8-7. Pence also singled to tie the game at 7-7 in the eighth inning with two outs, hiking the Giants’ season total in those situations to a MLB-leading 199. 44% of their total runs scored on the season have come with two outs. That’s simply C.L.U.T.C.H. Pence finished 2 for 5 on the night with two RBIs and a run scored and is hitting .301 on the year.
Brandon Belt also homered in the 11th to extend the Giants’ lead to 9-7, his second home run of the game. Belt now has 12 home runs on the year and went 2 for 4 in this one, with two RBIs and two runs scored. Buster Posey also homered (his 15th), going 3 for 5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, lifting his batting average to .328 as he continues as a leading MVP candidate again. Additional offensive contributors were Joe Panik (2 for 5, RBI, two runs scored, .309 average) and Matt Duffy (2 for 5, 2 RBIs, run scored, .305 average). In all, the G-men mashed 14 hits, four home runs, and nine extra base hits. On the season, the Giants are third in MLB in batting average and ninth in runs scored.
Chris Heston (11-5, 3.24) started this one and allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out two and walking two. Heston labored in the Texas heat (94 degrees at game time), lasting only 4 ⅔ innings, throwing 93 pitches. Heston felt he’d reached his limit saying, “I knew the pitch count was getting up there.”
Bochy was forced to use his bullpen earlier than he would have liked, and with the two extra frames, was forced to use eight pitchers in all. Jeremy Affeldt, George Kontos, and Ryan Vogelsong allowed runs as the Rangers scored two runs in both the sixth and seventh frames, before Javier Lopez, Yusmeiro Petit, Hunter Strickland, and Santiago Casilla came on to shut out the Rangers the rest of the way. Strickland pitched the ninth and tenth innings, allowing no hits and no runs to earn the victory, lowering his ERA to 1.61. Castilla pitched the eleventh inning, allowing just one hit and striking out two, to earn his 27th save on the year.
Next up for the G-men is an afternoon game to close out the series against Texas. Newly acquired from the Cincinnati Reds, starter Mike Leake (9-5, 3.56) will be on the mound for the Giants and will be opposed by Rangers’ starter Martin Perez (0-2, 10.50). Boch is hoping that Leake can continue working deep into games to give his bullpen a rest. Leake has pitched eight innings in three of his last four starts. Perez has never faced the Giants, and allowed eight runs against the Yankees in his last start. He is still looking to gain his form after undergoing Tommy John surgery last spring.