Street had game plan for dangerous Stanton
Given the opportunity, Giancarlo Stanton can beat you with one swing of the bat.
Padres closer Huston Street is well aware of that fact. He saw it happen to the Padres and teammate Dale Thayer last Friday night in the 11th inning at Petco Park.
"Stanton is a special player," Street said late Sunday afternoon after he discussed how he picked up his 11th save in 11 tries this season in a very unusual ninth inning against the Miami Marlins.
Protecting a one-run lead with one on and two out in the ninth and Stanton at the plate, Street essentially walked the slugger to put the tying run at second. Street then pitched around Casey McGehee, walking him to put the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second.
Street favored the matchup against Jeff Baker, who grounded out to short to end the game and give San Diego a 5-4 victory.
"I don't usually work like that," said Street, "but you have to work with all the information you have. To me, in that situation, it just seemed like the right way to go. Jeff Baker is a good hitter. But when you looked at all the factors, it made more sense to go after him."
Street turned the ninth inning of a one-run game into a chess match -- and won.
"There was a little crisis at the end of that one," manager Bud Black said after his club took a 5-0 lead into the eighth only to see the Marlins score four runs and strand the tying run at third.
"Huston knows how to work his way through an inning. He knew what he had to do."
And that was to avoid Stanton and McGehee.
"I saw the statistic," said Street. "Those two guys are driving in more than 40 percent of their runs. I didn't want them to beat me."
Street took the mound hoping to work a 1-2-3 inning and not face Stanton. That changed when pinch-hitter Marcell Ozuna hit a leadoff single.
Ozuna was erased on a grounder to short by Christian Yelich, although the fleet center fielder beat Jedd Gyorko's relay to first to avoid the double play. Reed Johnson then hit a fly to center for the second out.
That brought Stanton to the plate with Yelich on first. McGehee was in the on-deck circle ahead of Baker.
Street assed the situation. Stanton leads the National League in homers and the Major Leagues in RBIs. One swing by Stanton could change the outcome. McGehee was almost as dangerous with runners in scoring position.
"He's a good hitter," said Street, "but he's at his best against left-handed pitchers."
Baker got the start Sunday because the Padres started left-hander Robbie Erlin. And they couldn't pinch-hit for Baker against Street because they had already used their two infielders on the bench -- regular second baseman Derek Dietrich and Donovan Solano -- as pinch-hitters earlier in the game.
So with a runner on first and two out, the Marlins' next three hitters were Stanton (.301, 11 homers, 40 RBIs), McGehee (.299, one homer, 25 RBIs) and Baker (.210, one homer, seven RBIs).
No brainer. But how to get to Baker? Walk Stanton and McGehee to load the bases and flirt with disaster. Which is what happened. Street pitched around (and walked) both Stanton and McGehee to load the bases before getting Baker.
"I knew what I was doing," said the right-hander. "Stanton wasn't chasing the slider, and I wasn't going to give in to a special player in a special spot. I don't like walking anyone to put the tying run on second, but Stanton is Stanton."
That brought up McGehee with two on and two out. Street fell behind after missing with a couple of sliders.
"Walking McGehee wasn't in the original plan," said Street. "But when I'm behind in the count and Baker next, the tactical thing to do was pitch to Baker with the bases loaded."
Street jumped ahead with two quick strikes. Baker fouled off a low outside slider. Then he hit a grounder to Alexi Amarista at short, and he flipped to Gyorko at second for the final out.
"Huston knew what he was doing," said Black.