— Ryan Gorcey (@RyanGorcey) September 8, 2019
LOS ANGELES — Tyler Beede knew what he needed to hear.
With two outs and the bases loaded, behind 2-0 to Dodgers MVP candidate Cody Bellinger, Beede saw pitching coach Curt Young heading to the mound. His message was one Beede had started to tell himself: Stop overthrowing. Settle down. Do less. “Good point in the game to come out and give me a breather,” Beede said.
Young left, and Beede threw two consecutive 95-mph fastballs on the outer edge of the plate. Bellinger fouled off one, then popped the second out to left. It was Beede’s last batter, and Los Angeles’ last real chance to score. Beede was one of seven Giants pitchers — four of them rookies — who combined for a 1-0 win over baseball’s fifth-most prolific offense, one that hadn’t been shut out at home since May 9.
“It was one of the most fun games I’ve ever caught,” said catcher Stephen Vogt.
“It was an electric atmosphere,” said manager Bruce Bochy, “and they’re going to get better because of games like this.”
The Giants came in with the only two relievers remaining from the Opening Day roster — Tony Watson (wrist) and Will Smith (back tightness) — down due to nagging injury, and another two — Trevor Gott and Reyes Moronta — who are done for the season due to arm ailments. They had to lean on Beede, who had lost his last six decisions, in order to ensure that the Dodgers — sitting on a magic number of four — wouldn’t be celebrating their seventh straight National League West title at San Francisco’s expense.
Since July 24, San Francisco had gone 0-8 in Beede’s starts, and in 37 innings, he’d allowed 29 earned runs (7.05 ERA) with 11 walks and 11 home runs, striking out 36 and throwing 18 pitches per inning. Just before that run of awful outings, Beede had flashed the ability that made him one of San Francisco’s top five prospects, going 2-1 over a four-start stretch from June 27 to July 19, allowing 18 hits and walking four over 27 innings with a 2.00 ERA.
When Beede arrived at Dodger Stadium — where he threw six innings of three-hit ball with seven strikeouts in June — he told 22-year-old rookie Logan Webb that there was a different type of energy pitching in Los Angeles. He felt it when he took the mound.
“Beede threw great,” Vogt said. “That’s the best his curveball’s been in a long time. He was laying it in for strikes, but he was also getting swings and misses on sliders, changeups, fastballs. Everything.”
He struck out five in the first three innings. He was able to throw all his pitches for strikes and command the zone, with Vogt helping by blocking curveballs in the dirt. Beede did need a sprinting grab at the wall in left center by Kevin Pillar in the second to head off a would-be two-run double, but his command was there.
In the fifth, Beede gave up two singles at 106 and 108 mph and loaded the bases, but got Bellinger to end the inning, finishing off his five shutout frames with 80 pitches. The hope, Bochy said, was that that moment could get Beede into the headspace of being a rotation fixture moving forward.
“He’s had a tough go the last seven or eight starts,” Bochy said. “Hopefully, that can be a big out for him. To get that win, to get one of the best hitters in the game out with what was at stake, his pitch count was good, his stuff was good. He found a way to do it.”
San Francisco got a run after loading the bases with one out in the first, with Mike Yastrzemski — aboard thanks to miscommunication on a pop fly leadoff single — scoring on an RBI groundout by Kevin Pillar. Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin struck out Austin Slater in the first to strand three, then set down eight of the next 10. Four times on Saturday, San Francisco got two men on with one out or fewer, and scored just once. The Giants have had eight such innings in their last 18, and have only scored in two.
After Beede held the Dodgers down, rookie Shaun Anderson pitched a clean sixth, striking out two and getting six swings and misses on 16 pitches, using mostly mid-90s fastballs.
“That was a glimpse of something pretty special,” Vogt said.
Tyler Rogers and Andrew Suarez each got a pair of outs before rookie Sam Coonrod hit Justin Turner with one out in the eighth. Fernando Abad came on and induced a slick 3-6-3 double play turn from Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford, keeping San Francisco in front.
“The bullpen anchored the game,” Beede said. “Super-talented lineup. For our bullpen to be able to do that in high pressure situations was awesome. I’m lucky to get out of there with a win.”
When Smith, owner of 32 saves — felt his back lock up early in the day, he told Jandel Gustave — who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2017 — that the ball would be going to him in the crucial moment. Gustave had, at one point, contemplated giving up baseball after his operation. Then, sitting at home in the Dominican Republic, he looked at his newborn baby and said, “I’ve got to come back.” In February, he signed a minor league deal with San Francisco, and on Saturday, he was the last bullpen arm to take the baton.
He walked AJ Pollock to begin the ninth, but after a line out to center, Gustave got Kike Hernandez to roll into a game-ending double play at third.
“I missed ‘17 and ‘18, and it’s hard to be in that situation,” Gustave said. “I never thought I’d be coming back to the big leagues.”