Giants manager Bruce Bochy sat at the media room podium late Tuesday night following his team’s fifth loss in a row, and he said almost plaintively his team “could use a break.”
It came less than 24 hours later via an overturned call on a technicality that helped propel the Giants to a 7-1 win over the Chicago White Sox.
The Giants trailed 1-0 and had runners on first and third with one out in the seventh when Joe Panik hit a soft grounder to White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. Abreu fielded it and threw home, where catcher Tyler Flowers tagged Gregor Blanco for what appeared to be a deflating second out.
Bochy, though, emerged from the dugout and asked umpires to review whether Flowers had violated a new rule by blocking the plate before he had the ball. After a review of 4 minutes, 55 seconds, umpires overturned the call, ruling Blanco safe at home with the tying run.
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“It’s a rule,” Bochy said. “I know it’s a rule creating a lot of controversy, and they talk about reviewing this at the end of the season, maybe tweaking it. But it is a rule – you can’t block the plate without the ball. So that’s why we reviewed it.”
White Sox manager Robin Ventura stormed out of his dugout and was ejected, screaming and kicking dirt on the plate before he left the field. It also turned a potential missed opportunity into a seven-run explosion, the biggest inning of the season for the Giants, who had been held to two hits over the first six innings by White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana.
Blanco didn’t argue immediately after being tagged, but he said that during the umpires’ review he went into the clubhouse and watched the play.
His verdict: “Definitely (Flowers) was blocking the plate, and the rule is if he’s blocking the plate before he’s got the ball, it’s safe. I’ve been playing so long the same game that it’s kind of tough to see a rule like that change the game. At the same time, it was good for us today and ... I was saying, what it takes to win a ballgame.”
After the play, Quintana retired Brandon Crawford on a fly ball for the second out, but the inning then unraveled for Chicago. Quintana walked pinch hitter Joaquin Arias on four pitches to load the bases and was replaced by Ronald Belisario, who allowed three consecutive hits, starting with Angel Pagan’s soft two-run single to left.
“We needed a hit in the worst way there,” Bochy said. “And he didn’t try to do too much. He went with the pitch and placed it in a real nice area.”
They were Pagan’s first two RBIs since his return Aug. 7 from a nearly two-month stint on the disabled list, and they came on the kind of clutch two-out hit the Giants haven’t often had the last two months. An example had come shortly before, when Buster Posey led off the fourth with a triple off Quintana but was stranded.
“Feels great to be the one,” Pagan said. “In that situation, you’ve got to want it. ... The (pitch) was down but started like a strike, but I put my best effort and put it in the right place, so (I) feel good about that.”
Adding to the bizarre inning, the Giants scored twice more when Pablo Sandoval hit a fly ball to right-center that Adam Dunn appeared to knock out of Jordan Danks’ glove as they converged, resulting in a three-base error.
It was the Giants’ first seven-run inning at AT&T Park since Game 2 of the 2010 World Series, and just their eighth win in the last 30 games at home.
The outburst helped right-hander Jake Peavy earn his first win since April 25– an 18-start stretch that included 12 losses. Peavy, whose lone blemish in seven innings was a homer by Dunn that splashed into McCovey Cove in the fourth, said it was “nice” to end the streak, though he hadn’t been dwelling on it.
“Everything has an expiration date, and I knew I wasn’t going to continue to lose,” Peavy said. “It was a tough stretch, no doubt. All you can do is do your job, and fortunately that home run I gave up didn’t cost the game. I’ll sleep better because of that.”
Peavy said the team would sleep better ahead of today’s off day after ending a five-game losing streak in which they’d scored just nine runs.
To see the offense wake up after the overturned call, Bochy said, wasn’t surprising.
“I’ve said many times, when your offense is struggling, you need a break somewhere,” Bochy said. “It can be a bad hop, a blooper that falls, anything to loosen them up and take some pressure off them. Sometimes it takes something strange to break out the offense. And we had some big two-out hits there to put the game away.”