It felt like the 24th time the Giants and Dodgers (22-18) faced each other this season. On Tuesday night at AT&T Park, the Giants (17-24) solidified the series win by taking game two as Ty Blach outdueled Rich Hill in the leftie matchup. It was actually the ninth time they’ve met, by the way, and the finish marked the Giants fifth consecutive win.
Brandon Belt was huge. Unquestionably the offensive difference maker with multiple life injections. He was directly involved in each run the Giants scored. A nice compliment to Ty Blach’s impressive performance against a squad he’s done very well against in his young career. Dating back to last season, Blach has allowed just three runs in 23 innings against the Dodgers (1.17 ERA).
“He’s one of those guys that’s unflappable—just keeps coming after you,” manger Bruce Bochy said about his young starting pitcher. “That’s what you love about a kid that’s young.”
Belt led off in the fourth inning after his at-bat was cut short by a stellar Rich Hill pick off move that exposed a stealing Denard Span. Belt launched a moon shot that, off the bat, looked short. But it carried through the chilly night and landed just atop the right field brick. It marked the Giants 13th home run in eight games. And it was a solo shot, of course, just like all but one in the bunch.
“That’s big time,” Blach said.
Either Belt or Buster Posey has homered in every game since May 8.
After Blach stayed hitless through three innings, Justin Turner got on and was pushed to third when a Kiké Hernandez liner elevated over the head of a misjudging Justin Ruggiano. But on the very next play, Christian Arroyo—who made his debut at second base—fielded a slow chopper and gunned Turner down at the plate to keep the Dodgers scoreless.
The play was truly marvelous. Here you have Arroyo who started Tuesday at his third position in just 21 games as a big leaguer. He wasn’t playing that far in and the grounder had “get the for the sure out” written all over it. He scooped and threw with his shoulders square to home plate—a split second release that kept the Dodgers from tying it up.
“Oh, that was awesome. When that ball got passed me my heart sank a little and I was like, ‘shoot,’” Blach said. “You’re always trying to keep that runner at third base, to see him (Arroyo) come home like that was awesome.”
But in the sixth inning the Dodgers answered back with a leadoff solo home run of their own. Chris Taylor, the author of the bomb that exited in straight away center, tied it up 1-1. But Blach was able to soften the blow by escaping with two Dodgers left in scoring position.
Belt (2-for-4, HR, RBI, two runs) provided his second leadoff spark in the sixth inning with a grounder fielded by a shifted Franklin Hernandez who threw from his knees from shallow right field. And after Buster Posey’s ground out pushed Belt to third, Brandon Crawford hit a blooper into left-center to plate Belt, regaining the lead 2-1.
Rich Hill was out of sync early. He bounced a slow curveball off Span’s head to open things up and then balked a few pitches later. But he found a groove and gave his club a chance to win. Through five innings he struck out six and gave up just one run.
Hill’s opponent recorded the Giants sixth consecutive quality start. Blach tossed seven innings, struck out four and surrendered a run. The theme lately has been deep outings for starting pitchers and the results have been wins. With closer Mark Melancon down, the timing is good.
“I think it’s more what they’re (starters) doing. I didn’t make a conscious effort to push them to that limit,” Bochy said.
“I think it’s gotten a little contagious. They want to stay out there.”
But when the bullpen was called they came in and did their job. Hunter Strickland allowed two runners on, but notable plays from the Brandon’s halted the Dodgers. Derek Law came on in the ninth inning, took down the side in order and earned the save.
It was the first win the Giants earned in the number one starter spot, dating back to when a winless Madison Bumgarner crashed a dirt bike and fell to the disabled list. For Wednesday’s mid-day matchup, the club will look to extend their win streak and send the Dodgers out of the Bay with a streak of their own.