SAN DIEGO -- The Giants played their incumbent ace, Chris Stratton, for all he was worth in Thursday night's 7-0 win over the Padres at Petco Park.If you doubt the juxtaposition of Stratton's name with the term "ace," do the math. And watch the highlights of this game.Stratton pitched a
SAN DIEGO -- The Giants played their incumbent ace, Chris Stratton, for all he was worth in Thursday night's 7-0 win over the Padres at Petco Park.
If you doubt the juxtaposition of Stratton's name with the term "ace," do the math. And watch the highlights of this game.
Stratton pitched a career-high seven innings and limited San Diego to one hit -- a third-inning, pinch-hit single by pitcher Clayton Richard. It was the first time in the modern era (since 1900) that a pitcher got his team's only hit in a pinch-hit at-bat. The last time a pitcher who didn't start recorded a team's lone hit was Pittsburgh reliever Mace Brown on June 28, 1935, against the Cubs.
It's easy to imagine Stratton staying in for a potential no-hitter, had he retired Richard. One person who wouldn't dwell on what might have been was Stratton himself. He reasoned that he didn't perform as well as a no-hit pitcher should.
"You walk three guys," Stratton said. "You can't think of it like that. That's baseball."
However, there was no denying the quality of Stratton's performance. He joins Johnny Cueto as the only Giants starter to go seven innings in a start this season. Since last Aug. 5, the Giants have won seven of Stratton's 10 starts, and he has a 2.09 ERA over that stretch.
With injuries shelving San Francisco's top three starting pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner, Jeff Samardzija and Cueto -- the Giants welcome outings like Stratton's.
"He's one of our guys," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, using the term that he typically reserves for the most essential Giants. "He was coming in as the No. 4 starter of this club. Well, now, [the injuries make] him the No. 1 guy. He can do that. He can handle it."
Bochy added that Opening Day starter Ty Blach deserves co-ace status: "Those two are guys we're going to be leaning on."
Stratton proved he could handle that in the fifth inning, when he issued one-out walks to Freddy Galvis and Carlos Asuaje with the Giants leading, 3-0. Up came Austin Hedges, whose 18 home runs last year made him a threat to tie it up. Stratton survived, ending a 12-pitch confrontation with Hedges by coaxing a flyout to left field.
Stratton ended that stalemate with a 90-mph fastball. The sequence of his four preceding pitches: slider, fastball, curveball and changeup.
"He put on a clinic on pitching tonight," Bochy said.
Said Stratton, "I basically threw him everything I had. I knew if I could get that one, we'd get the next guy." That he did, as pinch-hitter Matthew Szczur grounded out to end the inning.
The Giants rewarded Stratton with four sixth-inning runs, largely due to a throwing error by Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva on Andrew McCutchen's grounder with the bases loaded and two outs.
The Giants were 4-for-15 with runners in scoring position, but two of the hits came with two outs -- a rarity so far this season -- and each drove in two runs. Hunter Pence contributed a first-inning single before Buster Posey lashed a sixth-inning double.
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Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford again proved why he has won a National League Gold Glove Award each of the past three seasons. In the first, he dashed into shallow center field to rob Eric Hosmer with an over-the-shoulder grab. According to Statcast™, Crawford covered 86 feet to make the impressive catch.
The series continues on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Petco Park, where Giants left-hander Blach opposes Padres righty Tyson Ross. After going 0-4-1 in their last five series at Petco Park, the Giants look to take a 2-0 lead in this series.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.