SAN FRANCISCO – The announced crowd of 21,535 at Oracle Park cheered wildly as Giants infielder Luis Gonzalez lined a single to right field off reliever Carlos Estévez — thinking the 10th inning hit would be enough to score Donovan Walton from second base.
Not quite. Walton appeared to get a late jump, and for a moment it seemed the Giants would only have runners on first and third base with one out.
But right fielder Charlie Blackmon overran the ball, allowing Walton to trot home as the Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 2-1 on Wednesday and even the three-game series at one win apiece.
“Base hit to right field, we have to be off with the ball getting into the outfield, making a good hard turn,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said of the play. “I’m not exactly sure what happened there, to be honest. I have to probably talk to (Walton) before making any assumptions.
“Glad it worked out and that there was a bobble and we were able to score easily.”
The series finale is Thursday afternoon, as the Giants will be looking to clinch their third straight series this season against the Rockies.
Besides Gonzalez’s heroics, the Giants got a standout performance from starting pitcher Alex Wood and some memorable individual efforts on defense.
Mike Yastrzemski had a memorable night, collecting three hits in his first three at-bats Wednesday before he made a diving catch in center field in the sixth inning to preserve a 1-1 tie.
With Blackmon on second base after a double, which represented his 1,500th career MLB hit, Rockies first baseman CJ Cron hit a liner to center. Yastrzemski dove and caught the ball in flight, keeping Blackmon at second base.
YAZ WHAT A CATCH 😱 pic.twitter.com/BOsFgVKRdP
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) June 9, 2022
“One of the things that we’re we’ve been exploring with our outfielders is the concept that you’re going to catch everything in front of you,” Kapler said. “So you’re basically running right through the baseball.”
Joc Pederson then made a running catch in left field in the top of the 10th inning, keeping Jose Iglesias at second base in a key sequence.
“It’s one of our better defensive games in recent memory,” Kapler said, “both on the dirt and in the outfield.”
Wood threw seven innings in his longest — and arguably his best — start of the season.
Wood allowed five hits, struck out five, and didn’t allow a walk for the first time in 11 starts this year.
“It felt great. I’m not going lie,” Wood said about getting through the sixth inning for the first time this season. “You get to the sixth inning, you let a guy get on. That’s when you take pride (on) getting through it hopefully unscathed.”
Wood could be forgiven if he felt a little unlucky in the third inning, as he induced soft contact against three straight batters – Elehuris Montero, Elias Díaz, and Connor Joe.
The problem for Wood and the Giants was that all three hits beat the shift and found holes. After Montero and Diaz and singled, Joe found a hole with a ground ball to the right side of the infield, bringing Montero in to score for a 1-0 Rockies lead.
“Anytime that happens, you’re just thinking, ‘what the heck.’ You can’t believe it,” Wood said.
The Giants got that run back in the fourth inning, as Darin Ruf doubled to left for his first hit since he returned from the bereavement list Tuesday. Thairo Estrada then scored Ruf with a single to left field, tying the game 1-1.
The Giants nearly took the lead in the fifth inning. With Luis Gonzalez at third base, Wilmer Flores lined out to right field, and the throw to the plate by Blackmon was accurate and on time, getting Gonzalez by a good enough margin.
Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela was just as effective as Wood, striking out six and walking one in six innings.
Wood was looking for his first win since May 10 when the Giants beat the Rockies 9-2. In that game, Wood strick out four over 5⅓ shutout innings as he improved his record to 3-2.
Since then, though, it’s been a struggle for Wood. In his last four starts before Wednesday, Wood had 20 strikeouts but also a 6.28 ERA in 18 1/3 innings and an opposing batting average of .293.
Wednesday, aside from the unusual third inning, Wood allowed just two hits.
Brandon Crawford, still not fully healthy after he felt tightness in his right leg Tuesday night, was scratched from the opening lineup Wednesday, but entered the game in the 10th inning as a pinch hitter for catcher Curt Casali. With Walton at second base, Crawford popped up to second base.
Crawford was originally penciled in to play the second game of the series at Oracle Park and hit fifth in the Giants’ lineup. Kapler knew his Gold Glove shortstop might not be comfortable enough to start. It’s questionable as to whether Crawford will start Thursday.
Contributed by local news sources