After a bullpen implosion cost Alex Wood a win in his prior start, the bench and relievers came through Monday to ensure his latest gem wouldn’t be wasted.
Three consecutive San Francisco Giants pinch-hitters came through in the bottom of the seventh, capped off with Mauricio Dubon’s go-ahead single, as the Giants took the lead after Wood delivered seven-innings of one-run ball to defeat the Texas Rangers 3-1.
“Tonight was a blast,” said Wood, whose bid for a win last Tuesday was thwarted when the bullpen allowed six seventh-inning runs to the Colorado Rockies. “Guys are just taking full responsibility for whatever their job is, and we’ve been able to get some big hits and play really well as a whole. It’s been a lot of great team wins so far.”
Rangers reliever John King, one of six lefties in the Texas bullpen, had struck out the first two batters of the inning, but walked Austin Slater, who had come in to hit for Steven Duggar. Darin Ruf then filled Wood’s spot and lined a single to right-center. Dubon took a first-pitch ball from King, fouled five consecutive pitches off to the right side, took another ball and then sent a hanging cutter into left for a base hit. Khris Davis, forced into the outfield with the lack of a designated hitter in the National League park, sent a throw back to the infield that was nowhere near the plate, allowing Slater to score the go-ahead run with ease.
“I didn’t know I was gonna hit,” Dubon said of his at-bat. “I was just trying to put up a good at-bat. The first couple of pitches were tough to see, and after that I went with no stride, trying to put some barrel on the ball and bring that run in.”
A throwing error by third baseman Charlie Culberson on Mike Yastrzemski’s grounder allowed Ruf to score, and the two-run seventh was enough of a cushion for San Francisco (21-14) to hang on. Tyler Rogers pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, inducing a Willie Calhoun pop-up and a weak tapper back to the mound from Nick Solak, and Jake McGee worked around a pair of singles for his ninth save, getting Culberson to pop out to end the game.
Wood allowed just a pair of hits through his first four innings, including a 63-mile per hour roller off the bat of Nate Lowe against the shift, but worked his way in and out of jams through his final three innings. Davis led off the fifth with a triple to right and scored on a Culberson line-drive single, but Wood responded by getting Jonah Heim to ground into a double play. After not issuing a walk in the first five innings, he allowed a pair of free passes to Solak and Lowe in the sixth but bounced back by striking out the red-hot Adolis Garcia and Joey Gallo. For his final act, he got Heim to bounce into a 1-4-3 double play to close the top of the seventh after Culberson had worked a nine-pitch walk.
Wood struck out seven, including four in his third time through the order, mainly using a sweeping slider that elicited comical swings and misses from right-handers. Isaiah Kiner-Falefa twice fell victim to the slider, swinging at pitches that looked like they were headed for his feet. Of his 33 sliders, 10 drew swings and misses.
“It’s been really good so far,” Wood said of his slider. “The way I’m throwing it right now, I’m able to use it effectively, even against guys where other days I wouldn’t throw my slider quite as much. It’s been a dependable pitch for me, and hopefully it’ll stay that way.”
He would have had an eighth strikeout had Belt let a foul bunt from Gibson drop for strike three, and he coaxed nine ground-ball outs, including the two double plays from Heim.
Texas (18-19) got six equally good innings from Kyle Gibson, who didn’t allow a hit until Brandon Belt’s opposite-field solo homer in the fourth. The Giants did get the first two men on in the fifth as Brandon Crawford hit a single off of Gibson and Wilmer Flores dropped a blooper into left, but Duggar hit into a 6-3 double play and Wood struck out swinging. Yastrzemski doubled with one out in the sixth and Belt worked a two-out walk, but Evan Longoria grounded into a force out to end the threat.
The Rangers’ stay in San Francisco will be a brief one, with the short two-game series concluding with a 12:45 p.m. Tuesday matinee. Logan Webb (1-3, 5.34 ERA) will start for the Giants, while Texas will counter with Jordan Lyles (1-2, 7.09). The teams will reconvene in Arlington for another quick two-game set on June 8-9.