SAN FRANCISCO – If Wednesday was a foreshadowing of rivalry moments to come between the Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, then 2013 is going to be an insanely satisfying baseball season.
Arizona could feel happy, maybe even a little lucky, after winning 3-2 in 10 innings to take two of three games from the Giants this week.
But the Giants could have won all three games. Or the Diamondbacks could have won all three games.
What could be better?
This was taut, tense baseball – in April. These were games that came down to mere moments and were won by the team that played sounder baseball.
The Giants went momentarily brain dead in the outfield again on Wednesday and were 0 for 10 with men in scoring position. It was the difference in the game. The key moment came in the ninth inning.
Giants center fielder Angel Pagan repeated Tuesday's mistake by left fielder Andres Torres – a blunder of underestimating an exciting new player in Arizona red – and it proved a critical moment in the Diamondbacks' win.
Rookie Arizona shortstop Didi Gregorius didn't stop running after blooping a ball to center that Pagan didn't fully read as it came toward him. Once the ball dropped, Pagan made matters worse by holding it too long as the fleet Gregorius reached second base when he really shouldn't have.
Raised on the Dutch island of Curacao in the Caribbean, Gregorius preyed on Torres' mental lapse the night before. Then Pagan had to wear it when Gerardo Parra drove Gregorius home with a single that flew just above the glove of the dynamic Brandon Crawford, the Giants' superlative shortstop.
That gave Arizona a 2-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning after the Giants had coughed up a 1-0 lead made possible by Crawford's seventh-inning double to drive home Gregor Blanco from first base.
So, of course, the Giants then did what they do – they rallied. And, of course, it was Crawford again. This time, he hit a dramatic home run to right field off Diamondbacks reliever David Hernandez – a hard-throwing right-hander from Elk Grove.
It was a tough homecoming for Hernandez, who was victimized via a dramatic home run by Giants big gun Buster Posey on Monday night. But Hernandez could take some solace that he retired the Giants in the ninth to preserve the tie – and that everyone in this series felt the lash of an unforgiving game played by serious men.
The Giants wasted a beautiful effort by starter Madison Bumgarner.
The Diamondbacks' bullpen, counted upon as a key weapon in the quest to wrest the West from the Giants, blew its major-league-leading seventh save.
The Giants proved again that no lead is safe against them. The Diamondbacks proved that they have answers for a Giants team they so badly want to emulate by winning their own titles to match the two the Giants have won in the past three seasons.
Arizona starter Ian Kennedy didn't give up a hit until the fifth inning.
Arizona scored its first run in the eighth when Giants manager Bruce Bochy may have left Bumgarner in too long after seeming so smart when he let Crawford swing away to drive in the first run instead of ordering him to bunt. An A.J. Pollock RBI single tied it 1-1. Giants reliever Santiago Casilla, warming up in the bullpen, snared a live ball in the inning, underscoring the Giants' occasional lapses.
Then, when San Francisco couldn't put it away, Cody Ross – a hero of the Giants' 2010 World Series team – doubled with one out in the 10th, just ahead of pinch hitter Will Nieves delivering the decisive sacrifice fly.
Yes. The Giants' clubhouse was tense and quiet in the aftermath. The beginnings of frayed nerves bubbled over between two no-nonsense teams that have passed the National League West title back and forth for the past three seasons.
Shall we make it four? Yes. Please.