A match up of Clay Hensley versus Brad Hennessey certainly doesn’t sound like a pitcher’s duel to anyone outside the NL West. But for the struggling San Francisco Giants, they’ll take any duel in which they come out on top.
Hennessey pitched shutout ball into the sixth inning, and he and five relievers combined to blank Hensley and the San Diego Padres 1-0 at Petco Park.
This game featured an interesting combination of ugly and outstanding play. The Giants only had four hits in the ballgame all singles with their 2-3-4 hitters going a combined 0-for-12, but turned in a fine pitching performance and some beautiful defensive plays. The Padres were able to get baserunners against Giants pitching they had the tying run in scoring position in every inning from the sixth inning on but couldn’t capitalize, and committed three errors on the field.
One of those errors led to the only run unearned in the ballgame. Ray Durham walked to lead off the top of the fifth inning, but the Giants ran into an out when Shea Hillenbrand failed to make contact on a hit-and-run play, and Durham was tagged out at second. Hillenbrand reached base anyway, thanks to an error by San Diego third baseman Todd Walker his second error of the game. Then two consecutive singles by Pedro Feliz and Eliezer Alfonzo brought Hillenbrand around for a 1-0 Giants lead.
Alfonzo’s hit would be the last Giants hit, but Hennessey and the Giants relief corps sustained the lead by repeatedly snuffing out Padres rallies. Making his seventh start of the season, Hennessey was in control of the early innings, allowing just two hits and two baserunners past first base. After issuing a walk to Brian Giles to put runners at first and second with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, Hennessey was replaced by Steve Kline, who bailed him out by getting Giant killer Ryan Bowen to fly out for the third out.
It was more of the same with a little excitement here and there in the final three innings. Mike Stanton performed a Houdini trick by escaping the bottom of the seventh inning unscathed after putting pinch-hitter Mark Bellhorn on third with one out. Stanton then put two runners on to begin the bottom of the eighth, but Vinnie Chulk and Jack Taschner again pulled a magic trick by retiring the side without having any Padres scoring.
As is par for the course nowadays, Armando Benitez made it a very interesting ninth inning, as he allowed a leadoff single, walked a batter, and put the tying run on second base all in a not-so-efficient 24-pitch inning. But the big righthander got the outs when they counted including a strikeout of pinch-hitter Geoff Blum to end the ballgame.
Not pretty, but the Giants’ first 1-0 victory of the year is certainly not being taken by granted by a team that is clinging on to slim hopes of a late-season run.
SFDugout’s Player of the Game: Alfonzo. The young Giants catcher not only drove in the lone run of the game, but he obviously called a great game behind the plate, able to interact with six different Giants pitchers in preserving the shutout. Big props also to Hennessey, who has all but earned a spot in the rotation.
Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at firstname.lastname@example.org to commiserate, cheer, and complain.
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