Giants-Padres: Bengie Molina's Walk-off Saves Brian Wilson
This season, I’ll take any win, no matter how the Giants pull it off.
I’m ecstatic that Bengie Molina went down and got that low, hanging slider and sent it into the left-field bleachers for a walk-off win.
That said, Molina’s solo shot shouldn’t have been necessary because tonight’s game shouldn’t have even made it to extra innings.
If Brian Wilson did his job, starting with not walking the leadoff batter in the ninth, the Giants would have picked up their second victory without the extra wear and tear of a long game.
Tim Lincecum should have received a vote of confidence that his gems could lead to wins, something the "franchise" may worry about given what happened to fellow ace-in-the-making Matt Cain last season.
Instead, another stellar outing from a young ace was washed away as the Giants failed to finish off the Padres. Lincecum looked brilliant for six innings, allowing only a run on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven Padres.
His fastball was electric, consistently topping 95, he looked in control of his changeup, and he even gave fans a glimpse of his developing slider—and his confidence in the pitch—using it late in his outing with men on base.
Alas, Wilson blew his first save of the season, a day after being called upon in a blowout, and cost Lincecum his win.
The relief pitching was supposed to be improved since last season’s bullpen sacrificed a few close ones, but after the first couple of tests, the same problems are still there, especially with Wilson, who has not taken over the closer’s role as smoothly as expected.
After Wilson, however, his predecessor as closer Brad Hennessey rebounded from his bad start to the season and pitched two solid innings to keep the Giants in the game.
Besides Wilson blowing the game in the ninth inning, the Giants also had a great chance to win it in the tenth but failed to convert an easy scoring opportunity.
Eugenio Velez, relegated to the bench since Ray Durham was unfortunately healthy enough to start again, came in as a pinch-hitter late in the game and in his second at-bat lined a ground ball up the middle to lead off the tenth.
Colt Morton, who just days ago was playing Double-A ball, was behind the dish only because of the recent injury to Michael Barrett and his inexperience led Velez to steal second with ease.
With no outs and a speedster at second, the Giants looked primed to pull off a walk-off win in front of the few loyal home fans that decided to stick around amidst the aggressive and impatient AT&T Park seagulls.
But Adrian Gonzalez made the defensive play of the night, snagging Randy Winn’s shot and stepping on first for the force before firing a shot to Kevin Kouzmanoff at the hot corner to nail Velez attempting to advance to third.
So, the Giants went from having their fastest man in scoring position with no outs to nobody on and two outs in the blink of an eye. To make matters worse, Clay Timpner looked just like he was making his first big-league plate appearance as he struck out on an ugly swing soon after.
But thanks to Hennessey getting the red-hot Gonzalez to fly out to deep right with a man on to end the top of the eleventh, the Giants got another chance to pick up the win.
And it seems the third time was the charm.
After Aaron Rowand struck out for the fourth time that night, Molina came to the plate and sent the Cla Meredith slider into the half-empty bleachers and the fans home happy.
Too bad there’s another Zito outing looming before Giants fans get to see Cain and Lincecum again. But at least tonight proved that this team of gamers has some fight in it, the potential to entertain fans, and the ability to play competitively with tough division rivals on any given night.
Let’s just hope those nights come more often the rest of the way.
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