AT&T Park — For the first time this week, the 50 grown men on the San Francisco Giants and Miami Marlins behaved themselves.
More specifically: Neither team intentionally hit another human being with a fastball or shouted threats or stared down an opponent, as they did on Monday and Tuesday. It was the kind of even-keeled baseball game — won 6-5 by the Giants — not usually seen at the back end of a temper-filled series.
Before that? It’s complicated.
Last Thursday, Miami starter Dan Straily hit third baseman Evan Longoria on the hand with a pitch, sending Longoria to the disabled list with a broken finger. On Monday, then-Giants closer Hunter Strickland exchanged words with outfielder Lewis Brinson after Brinson tied the game against him. Strickland broke his hand punching a door following the contest. He’s no longer the closer. On Tuesday, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez beaned Brinson. Straily responded by hitting catcher Buster Posey the next inning. Straily was ejected.
So, entering Wednesday’s contest, there was a sense more antics could take place even though the teams each have losing records and little wiggle room to withstand suspensions or additional injuries. Nothing happened. There weren’t even any close calls, or pitches thrown a little bit too far inside that could have ignited a reaction.
“I didn’t think it would continue,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “As I said after the game yesterday, you’re going to have games like yesterday. Tempers are going to flare, and boys will be boys.”
Still, the Giants dealt with another one of the fluky setbacks that have characterized their past few weeks. Infielder Alen Hanson fouled a ball off his leg in the first inning and had to leave the game with a left knee contusion — a costly injury to the team’s top utility player. He’ll be further evaluated on Thursday.
“We’ve definitely gone through some injuries, but the thing that’s outstanding about these guys is that each guy that’s [filled in] has stepped up,” said Giants starter Derek Holland, who earned the win with a six-inning, seven-strikeout performance after deciding to stand on the opposite side of the rubber than he usually occupies.
Without Hanson in the lineup, and with Buster Posey and Andrew McCutchen getting days off, the Giants’ offense waited out right-hander Jose Ureña until he lost his command in the sixth inning. Having cruised to that point, Ureña walked two batters (one intentionally) and generally struggled to hit his spots. He surrendered a game-tying ground rule double to Brandon Belt. He then gave up the go-ahead run with one out, as Belt helped prevent a potential inning-ending double play by obstructing the throw from third to second. He allowed another score on a bloop single to right by Hunter Pence.
Marlins manager Don Mattingly finally removed Ureña after Gorkys Hernandez capped a 14-pitch at-bat with a two-run single to give the Giants a 5-1 lead. Holland said he yelled support from the dugout throughout the plate appearance, and he was thrilled when he saw Hernandez launch the ball to right-center field.
“I just kept yelling, ‘Keep going baby,’” Holland said. “Gorkys did a great job today.”
After newly-christened closer Sam Dyson failed to shut the door in the ninth, allowing two runs, Reyes Moronta converted the save. His strikeout to strand the potential tying run on second base prompted him to clap his hand into his glove and do a hop-step off the mound.
Hanging on to take a series that began with a blown save and included several near-fights was a big step for the Giants, who are now just four games out of first place in the NL West despite a 37-38 record.
“It’s important to bounce back and be resilient,” Bochy said. “It was just a hard fought series, not to do a play on words there with what happened yesterday.”