Petco Park- San Diego, California
Just as everyone expected, the last game in April would feature the 1st place San Francisco Giants and the 3rd place San Diego Padres. If you actually predicted that credit to your insight.
The close standings are tighter than many expected. The NL West features four teams with a record over .500 and all of them are within three games of first place. Only the Colorado Rockies are below .500 and their prospects don’t look great for the season.
The Los Angeles Dodgers lost the first two games in a series against the Milwaukee Brewers. That made this Padre victory a massive deal for the NL West. The Dodgers now sit .5 games behind the Giants. A Padre win tomorrow would also bring them within half a game of the Dodgers.
There was no doubt that pitching would be the deciding factor in this game. Coming into the contest, the Padres lead the MLB in ERA, with the Giants trailing in second place. The ace of the Padres’ staff Yu Darvish was as dominate as ever on Friday.
After allowing a solo home run to Buster Posey, the Cy Young runner-up from last year found his stride. Including the home run, he limited the Giants to just four total hits. For the first time this season, Darvish reached double-digit strikeouts with 12 Giants punched out. He had the Giant’s hitters off balance all game.
In this game, he recorded an excellent 38 CSW%. CSW stands for called strike + whiff. Like it sounds, it counts every strike that that the batter does not make contact with. It means the batters are swinging and not able to make any contact, or they are not attempting at the ball and its being called a strike. This means that on a third of his pitches thrown the batters are clearly fooled.
“Darvish was outstanding tonight. I thought he got better tonight as the game went (on). If you even look at the ball Posey hit, I thought that was a good pitch. That was a good hitter putting a good swing”, Jayce Tingler said of Darvish’s performance.
In the 7th inning, Darvish got in a bit of a tough situation. He entered the inning with 90 pitches already thrown in the game. Jayce Tingler let him work this inning. He struck out Evan Longoria on four pitches to start the frame but then allowed a bloop single to right and two walks. Darvish loaded the bases and Tingler ended his night.
With Tim Hill on the mound, some drama ensued. Darin Ruf had come in as a pinch hitter for Tommy La Stella. He hit what was initially called a grand slam right down the right-field line. The umpires got together and ruled it foul. Then they went to the headset, and the team in New York confirmed that it sliced just foul.
Credit to Hill, he didn’t let that almost game-changing grand slam rattle him. He bounced back by strike out Ruf and the next batter, Mike Tauchman.
“He is unbelievable right now. We can put him in some sticky situations, and he has been phenomenal at it”, Tingler said on his performance.
Like Tingler said, he has been dominating. He has a 1.42 ERA on the season. On multiple occasions he has come into high leverage situations and performed. This wasn’t the first bases loaded jam he escaped. Just last week he got out of bases loaded against the Dodgers in the 10th inning.
In the 8th Drew Pomeranz had loaded the bases with no outs. Just like Hill, he remained calm in a big situation. He induced a double play, but one run was able to cross for the Giants. With the tying run at third, Pomeranz again induced a ground ball to get out of the inning.
A few batters kept the aggressive approach that sparked the offense in Arizona. There were five one-pitch at bats for the Friars in this game. There were many more two-pitch at-bats. Despite the success, an aggressive approach wasn’t used in every at-bat. They still managed to record four walks and managed eight full counts.
The winning runs came across in the 6th inning. Hosmer singled to reach base safely for the fourth time in the game (one was on an error). Jake Cronenworth smacked a double to right field, but it wasn’t enough to bring in Hosmer. Jurickson Profar would line a single to centerfield to score both of them. That gave the Padres their second and third runs, which were enough for the victory.