Hunter Pence had played every inning for the Giants so far this year, and is the only Giant to do so (that’s 30 games, 271.1 innings coming into the final game of this Dodger series).
Good thing he didn’t take Sunday off.
Pence drove in 4 runs, breaking out of a slump where he had just 5 hits in the last 32 ABs (.156)
It’s a hidden stat. While he’s .328 with no one on base, he’s just .211 with runners on.
But on this night, Pence was hotter than the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla, as the Giants staved off the Dodgers 4-3.
In the first inning, Pence’s fielder’s choice with the bases loaded, scored a run, but seemed like a mild improvement over his norm.
Then in the 3rd, with two runners on, Pence took advantage of Dodger starter Hyun-Jin Ryu’s control issues. After walking Buster Posey on four straight pitches, Ryu threw three straight balls to Pence before coming into the zone for a strike. Pence promptly punched it down the left field line for a double, scoring Marco Scutaro for a 2-0 Giant lead.
Then in the bottom of the 5th, after Ryu walked Sandoval on four pitches, and gave up a hard Posey single to center, Pence came up and delivered again— a double off the brick wall in right.
Both runners scored, giving a four-run margin and confidence to Matt Cain.
The Giants ace, who entered the game winless in six starts with an 0-2 record and an ERA of 6.49, was in control on this night.
After 6 innings, he was cruising on 91 pitches and 57 strikes. The Dodgers never seriously threatened.
Only in the 8th when Cain left, did the bullpen struggle. The Giants had the lead, so this wasn’t a comeback situation like the previous five victories, but it almost became one.
Adrian Gonzalez, pinch-hitting with the bases loaded and two outs, singled through the hole at second and drove in two runs off Jeremy Affeldt, the third reliever for the Giants in the game.
Affeldt’s quick appearance ended after Dee Gordon’s infield hit scored a third run in the inning to shave the score to 4-3.
With runners on first and second, Jean Machi came in to get pinch hitter Jerry Hairston to hit a grounder to Brandon Crawford at short, whose throw just barely got the speedy Hairston.
That set up the bottom of the 9th for closer Sergio Romo, and on Cinco De Mayo no less.
Romo, facing the top of the order, got Crawford to fly out to center. Then Nick Punto flied out to left.
It left a classic showdown for the final out between Romo and the Dodger slugger Matt Kemp.
Romo had the count to 1-2 on Kemp, who then flied out harmlessly to Torres in center.
Could there be a better finale on a Sergio Romo gnome giveaway day? A better way to end a Giant/Dodger series sweep?