San Francisco, CA – No champagne bottles on deck yet. The Giants clinched but only a tie, so the celebration is on hold for one more day.
The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Pittsburg Pirates so the final game of the regular season will determine who will play for the final Wild Card spot tomorrow. However, in a San Francisco loss they’ll play the Cardinals for the Wild Card tie-breaker on Monday.
“One of the best pitching performances I’ve seen,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “A month in the Major League, the stage he was on and knowing what was at stake. He had great focus and command. That’s why he started today because we had a lot of confidence in him.”
San Francisco’s 3-0 shutout win over the Dodgers was enough to maintain their lead for the second National League Wild Card spot but in order to keep their position they must win tomorrow. Either way, they’ll be traveling next week. The Giants season will definitely not end on Sunday.
“No matter what, we’re traveling,” Bochy said.
Their victory today came behind a dominating performance by rookie pitcher Ty Blach who made his second career start today. Blach also recorded his first Major League hit off Clayton Kershaw when he singled to led off the sixth inning.
The Southpaw scattered three hits and one walk over eight frames. Blach was simply stellar on the mound. After giving up a single in the fourth, Blach retired the next 10 batters.
“The big thing for me was to be able to move the ball on both sides of the plate and change speeds,” said Blach. “And let that defense work and they played great behind me all day.”
Blach only had one inning where he got himself into a jam in the second but the Giants defense had his back. After forcing Yasiel Puig to pop out, Blach gave up single to Adrian Gonzalez and walked Yasmani Grandal to put two on but Joc Pederson grounded into a double play to end the threat. He settled down and then struck out the side in the third.
Meanwhile Kershaw retired the first eleven players he faced until he gave up a single to Buster Posey in the fourth. And a solo home run to Angel Pagan in the fifth. Kershaw left one up to high in the fifth and Pagan took advantage to record a career-high 12 home runs. Kershaw lasted seven innings while allowing six hits, three runs and striking out four.
“It was where I wanted it to be,” Kershaw said in regards to Pagan’s home run. “If I could do it over again, I would have thrown a different pitch. I didn’t think he hit it that well, but I guess he did. Tip your hat.”
Pagan is now tied for the most career extra-base hits off Kershaw (others: Adan Dunn and Rickie Weeks, Jr.). To achieve this fete, Pagan recorded five doubles and one home run. The veteran outfielder was the heart of the offense today. His commitment is unwavering, Paga aspires to be the best everyday.
“I love the fire,” said Pagan of Bochy’s comment. “When the team needs me the most, I want to be the guy. That’s the way you got to think and every time where in a spot like that, if it’s me I want to do it.”
“Angel has a knack of coming through when you need him,” Bochy said earlier in his press conference.
By the seventh San Francisco added on two more runs. Pagan led off with a single, Brandon Crawford followed with a grounder deflected off Kershaw. A throwing error by third baseman Justin Turner allowed Pagan to score advancing Crawford to third base. Gordon Beckham’s sacrifice fly scored in Crawford to make it a 3-0 game. Blach got his second hit of the day when he single on a ground ball to right field.
After Kershaw’s exit in the seventh, the Giants had another opportunity but failed to score in any runs. Hanley Jansen loaded the bases in the eighth. Brandon Belt was issued a free pass to lead off the frame. Hunter Pence singled and Pagan walked to load them up with one out. Jansen struck out both Crawford and Beckham to end the inning.
Tomorrow Vin Scully will call his final game after a 67 years career as the Dodgers broadcaster. Scully has been the Dodgers broadcaster since 1950. He’s called three perfect games and 20 no-hitters. Scully has witnessed some of the best players in baseball. There’s nothing this 88 year-old man does not know. San Francisco will pay tribute to Scully before tomorrow’s first pitch.