ORACLE PARK — Sunday’s series finale between the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies will be remembered for Kevin Pillar’s go-ahead triple and Will Smith’s two-run single in his first career plate appearance to give the Giants a 9-6 win in a seesaw game.
It was all set up by the bullpen depth that’s been crucial for the Giants to hang around in the wild card race.
Even after trading Sam Dyson, Mark Melancon and Drew Pomeranz at the deadline, San Francisco has been able to rely on a bullpen that, for the first half, was the best in the National League. Starter Conner Menez failed to make it out of the second inning in his third career start, but seven of the nine relievers on the roster got in the game to combine to record 22 outs, with Smith ultimately getting credited with the win.
Andrew Suarez, Trevor Gott, Reyes Moronta and Williams Jerez all made scoreless appearances, with Gott getting five crucial outs across the fourth and fifth inning to keep the game tied after San Francisco (59-60) plated three in the bottom of the third to even the score at 5-5.
“I’ll pitch whenever Boch wants me to pitch,” Gott said. “That’s how I’ve gone about this year. Coming off three tough years, I just want to get out there and pitch and prove myself.”
Gott’s taken the mound in all sorts of roles this year, but just to have stability on an MLB roster has been a sense of comfort for the right-hander, who had made just 33 appearances over the prior three years with the Washington Nationals, and has barely accrued a full year of service time. The 44 appearances he has made this season are four shy of his career-high, which came in 2015 with the Los Angeles Angels.
In the fourth, Gott struck out cleanup hitter J.T. Realmuto with the bases loaded, becoming the only pitcher to retire Realmuto on the day, then got Scott Kingery to break his bat and pop out on the first pitch to escape the jam. Gott also took care of the fifth to keep the game tied, allowing just a two-out single to pinch-hitter Vince Velasquez, who started Saturday’s game on the mound for the Phillies.
Scooter Gennett went deep against Phillies lefty Ranger Suarez in the sixth, hitting the first pitch he saw into McCovey Cove for the 80th Splash Hit in stadium history.
Jerez came in for the seventh and got two outs, though a walk to Roman Quinn and a wild pitch on his first offering to Bryce Harper put men on second and third. That led manager Bruce Bochy to pull Jerez in the middle of the at-bat, going instead to Tony Watson, who ultimately walked Harper to load the bases, but got Rhys Hoskins to pop out to end the inning.
Watson also took the mound in the eighth, but gave way to Smith after a one-out single by Realmuto and a Kingery double to put men on second and third. Corey Dickerson tied the game with a sac fly on Smith’s first offering, technically giving the lefty a blown save, but it was soon forgotten in the bottom of the inning.
After Pillar laced a 3-1 offering from Nick Pivetta into the gap in right-center for a go-ahead triple, Brandon Crawford was intentionally walked. Smith came to bat for his first plate appearance since college. Crawford stole second, and Smith lined a 3-1 offering to right, reaching first just as Harper’s throw carried Hoskins away from the bag.
“I’m just that slow,” Smith said when asked if he slowed down heading into the base.
Crawford then beat Hoskins’ throw home to make it a two-run single, ensuring that the top of the Phillies lineup would have a tough road ahead against Smith in the ninth. The hit wasn’t the only career first for Smith, who also received his first Gatorade shower despite technically having a blown save next to his name in the box score.
Had Smith’s spot come up with the score tied, it would have instead been the hobbled Pablo Sandoval batting and Sam Coonrod pitching the ninth.
“It wouldn’t have been a lot of fun to do, but if it was a tie game, I was gonna have to go for it,” Bochy said.
With Pillar’s RBI triple paving the road, Smith became the third Giants pitcher on the day to make his first career plate appearance, something no team had done in a game since the 1934 Cincinnati Reds. Gott hit a sharp liner to right, but it was caught by Bryce Harper.
“I definitely have bragging rights,” Smith said, “though (Gott) hit it good too. I threw my hands up when he hit it.”
It was apparent from the outset that both bullpens would be in high demand. Phillies starter Jake Arrieta allowed the first four batters he faced to reach, including a two-run single by Evan Longoria, before escaping further damage by striking out Gennett and getting Pillar to bounce into a double play.
Menez walked three in the second, the last of which came to Quinn with the bases loaded to force in Philadelphia’s first run. Harper than singled to center on a 2-2 pitch to center to put the Phillies in front, and they’d add to the lead in the third as Jandel Gustave allowed a Realmuto single and Kingery double. Suarez then came in and got Dickerson to pop out, but rather than intentionally walking Cesar Hernandez to face Arrieta, the Giants went straight after the second baseman, who singled in a pair to make it 5-2.
It was a short-lived lead as Arrieta would allow four more hits and three runs in the bottom of the third. Yastrzemski’s 12th homer of the year cut it to 5-3, Gennett doubled in Longoria to cut the lead to one and Pillar singled to left to tie the game. Arrieta lasted just three innings, allowing seven hits and five runs, looking much more like the pitcher battling bone spurs in his elbow than the one who won the Cy Young in 2015.
The Phillies drew 11 walks, but went 4-for-14 with men in scoring position and left 15 men on base.
Having signed Harper and traded for both Realmuto and Jean Segura over the prior offseason, the Phillies find themselves just 1 1/2 games ahead of a Giants team that was largely thought to be in rebuild mode, and the disparity in bullpen depth between the two teams is a key reason the gap is so small despite Philadelphia’s star-studded core.