Sometimes, you just can’t shake the Phillies off. For eight innings.
Like gum on your shoe, you know you’re eventually going to win, it just might take some actual effort to do so. They glom onto your team, forcing to you make pitches when you thought you could get away with soft-tossing all night. For every ball you get over the fence, they summon all their might and push a couple over, too. Must be maddening for a team like the Giants.
Especially after watching their Chosen One, Madison Bumgarner, lose to a career .242-hitting catcher last night, the Giants were probably anxious to get this one over and done with and be able to say they won the series against a putrid Phillies team. But for whatever reason; maybe the Bay Area breeze or the the Bay Area sun or the abrupt, unmanageable Bay Area weather in its entirety, the Phillies had an answer for every bit of Giants offense tonight. Until the one that ended the game.
The contest’s first subplot was that of Aaron Nola. The 23-year-old has been stumbling, and after pegging his third batsmen of the afternoon, it was clear that he was still in mid-stumble. For the fourth start in a row, he lasted fewer than four innings, handing runs to the Giants in the top of the first on a single, double, and inaugural HBP of the long day. All Brandon Crawford had to do to score a run was ground out, which he had no problem doing.
Early on, it was clear that Nola’s command had evaporated. The Giants, however, decided that for whatever reason, the rookie in mid-meltdown was out for blood, so in the fourth inning, Johnny Cueto hit Maikel Franco pretty squarely with a pitch.
You don’t want to think that Johnny Cueto and Bruce Bochy were over in the San Francisco dugout, rubbing their hands together after coming up with their sweet, sweet revenge scheme. You can’t assume that instead of saying something to the umpire, they told their pitcher to hit a guy on purpose in the name of keeping everyone safe. You don’t really want to assume it, because of what it says about the Giants.
Regardless, by the time Cueto was throwing at people, the score was 4-3. Odubel Herrera had led off the game with a double in the first and been slowly pushed over at the cost of outs to make it 1-0. Crawford’s aforementioned ground-out tied things up; and the Giants had a big bottom of the third to make it 5-1.
This is typically when the game is considered “out of hand” for Phillies fans - or more accurately, that was about when it became 3-1, but people just hadn’t bothered to turn the game off yet - so, TVs went off. So it was in front of a fraction of their audience that the Phillies mounted a comeback, starting with Cueto’s “mistake” in the top of the fourth.
After getting hit, Franco eventually came around to score on a Chooch single, and Freddy Galvis punched in Cody Asche with another single. The next inning, an Asche - you guessed it - single knocked in two more runs. Did I mention in the midst of this, Peter Bourjos hit his ninth, tenth, and eleventh hits in six games?
So things were tied at 5-5 by the time Brett Oberholtzer took over; a sure sign that the scoring was not only incomplete, but forthcoming. Crawford proved this with another RBI single, giving the Giants a 6-5 lead. But then Herrera hit a solo shot the next inning to tie it up again. But then an Angel Pagan double off David Hernandez made it 7-6. But then a Ruiz single made it 7-7.
We thought they’d dance all night. But, every baseball game has to end, despite all evidence to the contrary. The Giants being at home meant that it was way more likely that they would score a single run before the Phillies would both score a run and withstand three more outs. This theory was proven by Conor Gillaspie, a human man who wears a Giants uniform professionally, when he hit a double off Severino Gonzalez in the ninth inning to give everyone at AT&T Stadium a nice little Sunday night memory that they can keep forever in their fun little heads.
Meanwhile, the savage Aaron Nola has been moved to a padded cell - WHERE HE BELONGS.