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Giants walk tightrope but keep Bucs contained

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

PITTSBURGH -- The Giants' 2-1 margin of victory over the Pirates were the numbers that counted most in Saturday's 11-inning struggle. However, other figures demonstrated the danger the Giants flirted with all afternoon at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh left 15 runners on base, including 10 of them in scoring position. The Giants often created these predicaments for themselves by walking 10 batters. None of those baserunners scored, but they forced starter Matt Moore and five relievers to work a higher tightrope than usual.

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PITTSBURGH -- The Giants' 2-1 margin of victory over the Pirates were the numbers that counted most in Saturday's 11-inning struggle. However, other figures demonstrated the danger the Giants flirted with all afternoon at PNC Park.

Pittsburgh left 15 runners on base, including 10 of them in scoring position. The Giants often created these predicaments for themselves by walking 10 batters. None of those baserunners scored, but they forced starter Matt Moore and five relievers to work a higher tightrope than usual.

View Full Game Coverage

San Francisco forced the Pirates to leave the bases loaded in the first, sixth and 10th innings. Pittsburgh also stranded baseunners in scoring position in the third, fourth, seventh and 11th innings.

However, the Giants limited Pittsburgh to one hit in 11 at-bats with runners in scoring position. That prompted Giants manager Bruce Bochy to praise "this warrior effort on the part of all the pitchers."

George Kontos was the first reliever to back Moore, inheriting a bases-loaded, two-out predicament from the left-hander with two outs in the sixth inning and defusing it by striking out Josh Harrison.

Video: SF@PIT: Kontos whiffs Harrison, leaves bases loaded

"I think what everyone does a really good job of in our bullpen is being able to stay in the moment and not let the situation overwhelm you," Kontos said. "When you have a few outings like that, it really helps build that confidence amongst the guys."

Hunter Strickland summoned that confidence when he issued three two-out walks in a row to Andrew McCutchen, David Freese and Josh Bell.

"I was coming out of my delivery a little bit," Strickland said.

Renowned for his high-velocity fastball, Strickland skirted trouble by slipping an 82 mph, 2-2 curveball past Elias Diaz to force extra innings.

As stingy as San Francisco's relievers were, the man who sustained the Giants most during extras was catcher Buster Posey. With one out in the 11th and a runner on first base, the National League's reigning Gold Glove winner at his position pounced on McCutchen's swinging bunt and threw him out at first base by a half-step.

Video: SF@PIT: Posey fields roller, makes nice throw for out

Posey flawlessly handled the play despite having to scramble nearly to the pitcher's mound to scoop up the ball. However, Posey was so certain of making the play that he called for the ball almost as soon as McCutchen hit it.

Bochy marveled at Posey's mastery, particularly given the juncture of the game. By the 11th inning, Bochy pointed out, "your legs are a little fatigued. ... You could tell he wanted that one bad."

Posey discussed the play with the same calmness he displayed while executing it.

"It was probably a little farther out there than normal," he said. "On that play, basically, it's a spin and you're throwing as soon as or before you see where [first baseman Brandon] Belt is. So it's an instinctual play. You don't have time to turn, find and then throw. it's all one motion."

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.

San Francisco Giants, George Kontos, Matt Moore, Buster Posey, Hunter Strickland