The fastball from Santiago Casilla came in at 94 mph to A.J. Pollock, who hit it sharply but right at third baseman Ehire Adrianza, who threw to second for the final out of a 4-2 Giants win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Thus ended August for the Giants, whose 11-16 record marked their worst month of the season.
“August is over with,” Casilla said shortly after through an interpreter. “I think August was a month that kind of gave us a test to see where exactly our heads were. Here comes September, and this is the month we need to actually win. After September, there are no more months left.”
Of course, the Giants hope to continue playing after September. And their performance in the next month will be decisive, starting immediately with a four-game series against the National League-best Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
“It’s going to be fun,” Buster Posey said. “I think these are the games you look forward to. It should be a good atmosphere, know those guys are playing well, and you always enjoy the challenge of playing the best teams out there.”
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We try to stay positive here and try to win ballgames, and don’t get concerned with what the other teams are doing. It’s up to us to go out and play better ball.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy
Bad as their second half has been, the Giants lead the N.L. wild-card race and ensured with Wednesday’s win they will go into Chicago no more than 1 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the West. Matt Moore earned his first win as a Giant at AT&T Park, but the outcome was still very much uncertain when Casilla entered in the eighth.
Sergio Romo began the inning with a 4-1 lead, but the Diamondbacks loaded the bases with two outs on Jean Segura’s double and two walks. Manager Bruce Bochy then summoned Casilla, who had thrown just one pitch in a game since Aug. 18, to face Yasmany Tomas, Arizona’s leader in home runs.
Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale had dangerous left-handed hitter Jake Lamb available on the bench. But Hale left in Tomas, who had struck out three times. Casilla made it four, getting Tomas swinging on a two-strike fastball away.
The out loomed even larger when Lamb pinch hit with two outs in the ninth and homered to left field, giving him three hits in seven career at-bats against Casilla, all home runs. Casilla then allowed a single to Segura but got Pollock to hit into a game-ending fielder’s choice.
Bochy said he wasn’t surprised to not see Lamb in the eighth.
“No, they had a pretty good hitter, hot hitter up there (Tomas), who’s been hitting a lot of home runs,” Bochy said. “You look at his recent numbers, it’s been pretty impressive. But Casilla saved us there. That’s huge. Nothing’s easy here. We played it close.”
It didn’t have to be. The Giants stranded nine runners and went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position, but did enough in two innings to win. Buster Posey doubled off Arizona starter Shelby Miller to drive in Joe Panik in the first inning, then scored two batters later when Hunter Pence fought a two-strike single into right field.
Miller did not allow another run before departing after the sixth. But the first two hitters Arizona reliever Randall Delgado faced in the seventh, Conor Gillaspie and Angel Pagan, tripled and doubled, and Pagan scored on a Posey sacrifice fly to put the Giants ahead 4-1.
I think August was a month that kind of gave us a test to see where exactly our heads were.
Giants closer Santiago Casilla
Moore, coming off his near-no-hitter against the Dodgers, struck out seven in the first five innings without allowing a run. Pollock singled to start the sixth and Paul Goldschmidt hit a drive to center field that might have been extra bases, except Gorkys Hernandez, starting in place of the injured Denard Span, made a leaping catch at the wall.
“It was unbelievable,” said Moore, who threw his hands in the air after the catch. “You see some of the great center fielders make catches like that. For him to come up with that ball and keep A.J. at first base I think helped the inning kind of subside.”
It was the last batter Moore faced as Bochy, mindful of the left-hander’s 133 pitches in his last outing, removed him Wednesday after 92 and brought in Hunter Strickland. Pollock, who tagged up and went to second on Goldschmidt’s flyout, stole third and scored on a groundout for Moore’s lone run.
It was pointed out to Bochy after the game that had the Giants lost and the Dodgers swept a doubleheader against the Colorado Rockies, the Giants would have been 3 1/2 games behind going into Chicago. Bochy shook his head.
“I don’t think like that,” he said. “We try to stay positive here and try to win ballgames, and don’t get concerned with what the other teams are doing. It’s up to us to go out and play better ball. … We know it, we’ve got to pick up in areas. This was a huge game. But they’re all big now.”