San Francisco Giants Regain Winning Ways, Beat New York Yankees in 12 Innings
NEW YORK -- There are must-win games to avoid elimination. There are must-win games to restore sanity.
And there are must-win games that might save a clubhouse from becoming a powder keg. Giants manager Bruce Bochy barked in anger after an inattentive Angel Pagan failed to score on a wild pitch in the 11th inning Saturday at Yankee Stadium. It was the kind of mistake that cannot happen for a team that is not getting clutch hits or finding any breaks.
But in the Big Apple, the worm finally turned. Mac Williamson hit a home run in the fifth inning and threaded an RBI single in the 12th as the Giants snatched a 2-1 victory in the Bronx.
Two rookies rescued the Giants (58-39) from their six-game losing streak out of the All-Star break. Trevor Brown doubled off Anthony Swarzak to start the 12th and Williamson, who hit his third home run of the trip in the fifth, came through with the Giants’ only hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position.
The club is batting .125 in those situations since the break.
Santiago Casilla saved his own victory. He escaped a bases-loaded situation not of his making in the 10th, then pitched a scoreless 11th to keep the game alive and save Pagan’s skin. Hunter Strickland handled the 12th to record the save.
Pagan by all rights should have scored in the 11th after he walked, stole second base and advanced on a ground out. The Yankees set up to issue an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford but right-hander Dellin Betances looped the first pitch to the backstop.
Pagan, who had taken just a one-step lead off third base, got a late break and did not run. Bochy yelled from his perch against the dugout rail, and stared at Pagan the rest of the inning. Crawford grounded out and by the time Pagan returned to the dugout, Bochy had walked up the tunnel.
The Giants pulled a surprise a few hours prior to the first pitch, switching the order of their rotation and giving the ball to Johnny Cueto in his previous No.2 spot behind Madison Bumgarner in the rotation. A sellout crowd expected to see right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who is now listed to start Sunday.
Bochy apologized to reporters for the confusion, saying the plan was set several days ago to put Cueto back on his normal day and he thought it had been communicated to the public.
Cueto still pitched with extra rest, and he appeared much crisper than he did in his previous start at San Diego or when he took the loss for the National League in the All-Star Game. He struck out nine in six innings, and the only run he allowed was unearned.
The Yankees took advantage of Williamson’s mistake to score a run in the fourth. Didi Gregorius reached on a nubber to the left side, and got a good jump on Mark Teixeira’s single to right. When Williamson fumbled the ball, Gregorius busted home and scored easily.
It was the kind of break the Giants haven’t received during their losing skid. Their opponents aren’t giving away outs, and when the Giants try to force the issue, they end up getting penalized.
The first three innings were a grotesque pencil sketch of their luck in the second half.
They couldn’t get a hard-hit ball to fall with two on and one out in the first inning. Buster Posey lined out, then Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner made a sliding catch of Brandon Belt’s sinking liner.
In the second inning, Williamson was thrown out trying to score from first base on Ramiro Peña’s two-out double. Gardner made a barehand pickup in the left-center gap, and teamed with Gregorius to make a perfect relay to the plate.
The Giants simply let a chance pass in the third inning, when they couldn’t score with no outs and runners at the corners. Brandon Belt, who has wandered in the dark ever since the All-Star break, couldn’t check his swing while striking out. Then Posey bounced into a double play.
Williamson, getting a rare start against a right-hander, atoned for his earlier error when he drilled his third home run of the road trip. His solo shot off Ivan Nova tied the game in the fifth.
Pagan atoned as well. He kicked away a short-hop liner to give the Yankees an extra base in the seventh inning, but left-hander Javier Lopez got a pair of ground outs to bail him out. Pagan paid it forward for Sergio Romo in the eighth, when he laid out to catch Starlin Castro’s line drive and threw to first base to double off Brian McCann.
Josh Osich pitched a spotless ninth inning but unraveled while issuing two walks to start the 10th. The first one came after he had two strikes on Aaron Hicks, who entered the game with a .189 average. The second one included a passed ball on an apparent cross up with Posey.
Casilla entered and the gears turned in both dugouts. Jacoby Ellsbury advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt and the Giants intentionally walked Carlos Beltran. Casilla got McCann to hit a shallow fly out to left field, then Williamson wrestled Starlin Castro’s fly ball away from a fan down the right field line to send the game to the 11th. For more on the Giants, see the Giants Extra blog at blogs.mercurynews.com/Giants . Follow Andrew Baggarly on Twitter at twitter.com/extrabaggs .