AT&T PARK — San Francisco Giants left-hander Will Smith and Sam Dyson pitched an uneventful ninth inning on Tuesday against the Miami Marlins, a stark contrast to the wild final frame on Monday that wound up with closer Hunter Strickland going under the knife for a broken hand Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, it was the second inning that brought out the rhubarb, as the Giants and Marlins continued what’s been a simmering tension since last week’s series in Miami, en route to a 6-3 win.
A pair of second-inning plunkings and a matching set of ejections fell out of leftover hostility from Strickland’s beef with Marlins rookie outfielder Lewis Brinson, but despite initiating the hostilities, San Francisco was the beneficiary, and beat the Marlins for just the second time in six tries.
The Giants took a quick 1-0 lead on a 420-foot Buster Posey home run halfway up the left field bleachers in the bottom of the first, and added a two-run Gorkys Hernandez homer in the second before things got testy.
In the course of giving up three runs on three hits and two walks in the ninth inning on Monday, Strickland buzzed the tower on Brinson before giving up a 1-2 single to tie things up. Brinson celebrated, and Strickland took exception, barking at him after he got the hook, before punching a clubhouse door and breaking his own hand.
On Tuesday, Rodriguez plunked Brinson in the hip in his first at-bat in the second, and the umpires warned both benches. As Marlins manager Don Mattingly left the field following the warnings, the Giants broadcast crew speculated that he had threatened Posey, though the Giants catcher did not hear any direct threats.
“He was upset at the warning, and said something about, ‘Not tonight, tomorrow,’ or whatever,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “I guess he thought they had to do something. Get a little fuzzy math going on when I have my third baseman on the DL for eight weeks and a guy get hit in the back last night. You know what? These guys kept their focus.”
Rodriguez maintained he was just trying to throw inside, and not let Brinson get his hands extended.
Asked whether Rodriguez hit Brinson in retaliation for Monday’s extracurriculars, Bochy cited the fact that third baseman Evan Longoria had his hand broken by a pitch inside against the Marlins last week.
“My response I guess would be, were they throwing at Longoria?” Bochy said. “[Kelby Tomlinson] got hit in the back last night, so that’s my response. Were they throwing at him? These things you don’t know.”
In the bottom of the frame, starter Dan Straily drilled Posey in the back on the first pitch of his at-bat, earning an ejection, and Bochy came out hot.
“I don’t know [if it was retaliation],” Posey said. “It sure seemed that way.”
The the Giants have now had three players sidelined with broken fingers (including Strickland), and another — Joe Panik — is coming back from a torn ligament in his thumb. The country justice approach to defending Strickland’s honor was a risky one for San Francisco, but it got both Mattingly and Straily ejected.
That hit batter put two on, and after a flare single to right by Andrew McCutchen loaded the bases, Brandon Belt walked to force another run in.
Miami, though, responded with a pair on a two-run triple by JT Riddle and a two-out Anderson RBI double, but Rodriguez was able to get out of that inning, and throw a shutdown fifth. He struck out six in five innings, allowing seven hits and walking none.
“He’s a tough kid, and he’s handled himself so well,” Bochy said. “I’m proud of the way he handled everything this early in his career.”
The Giants got breathing room in the fifth against Marlins reliever Elieser Hernandez — Straily’s replacement — with a pair of walks to lead off the frame, and then a twisting double over Anderson in right by Alen Hanson. Pablo Sandoval and Mac Williamson — who took those walks — nearly crossed each other on the base paths, but Sandoval got on his horse and eventually scored, as Williamson slowed up and stopped at third.
A pop-fly double by Gorkys Hernandez between a trio of Marlins brought home another run, giving the Giants their eventual winning margin.