A night after Coors Field saw 31 combined hits, 17 runs and a towering go-ahead blast in the 10th inning, it saw inaction for the first five innings.
The Giants’ bullpen muted Colorado’s offense. Kyle Freeland dealt.
But then when the sun set in Denver, David Villar and C.J. Cron traded solo home runs. Thairo Estrada stayed hot. Cron added two more RBI with a towering double.
The offenses awoke, but San Francisco’s bullpen fended off the Rockies. SF scored in three of the last four innings, making excellent work from John Brebbia, Tyler Rogers and Sean Hjelle pay off in a 6-3 win. Hjelle provided four innings as the Giants (71-77) deployed six arms.
San Francisco has struggled without a traditional starter this season — a far cry from last season’s group that could beat Walker Buehler in a historic pennant race. The Giants entered Tuesday 6-9 on the season in bullpen games.
This became a bullpen game because the Giants decided to push Carlos Rodón’s scheduled start from Tuesday to Friday as he deals with a split nail and blood blister. The ace has already exceeded his career-high in innings, and San Francisco plans to proceed with caution. It’s apt given his previous injury history, the lack of meaningful September games and his unique contract situation.
SF’s relievers stepped up in Rodón’s absence.
The Giants took the lead in the third inning, when left fielder Yonathan Daza dropped Joey Bart’s deep fly ball on the warning track. The misplay was ruled a triple, which was poetic justice for a shot that would’ve left every ballpark besides Coors Field.
Three consecutive doubles, including one from a scorching hot Thairo Estrada, padded two runs to the Giants’ lead. Estrada entered Tuesday hitting .305 with a .889 OPS in September and fresh off his go-ahead three-run blast from the previous night.
Cron took Hjelle deep on a curveball left over the plate in the bottom of the sixth, but Villar answered right back in the top of the seventh.
The rookie infielder flipped his bat instantly. Villar’s 106.1-mph strike soared 424 feet halfway up the left-field bleachers. He knew he had his sixth homer of the year right away.
Austin Slater drove in the Giants’ fifth run with his second double of the night. But, as evidenced by Monday, five runs isn’t always enough in Coors Field.
The Cron homer was the only run Hjelle allowed in four key innings. His curveball was particularly effective, generating seven whiffs and leading to three strikeouts.
But Thomas Szapucki relieved Hjelle and immediately got into trouble. He walked his first batter then allowed a deep drive to Cron. Lewis Brinson nearly robbed a homer, but did enough to keep it in play. Two runs scored after a video review didn’t find enough evidence to prove Joey Bart swiped a tag on Yonathan Daza at home.
Still, Szapucki left the Giants with a 5-3 lead. Estrada added to his month with a two-out, RBI single for an insurance run.
Then in the ninth, Marte, the rookie, got two outs but left Jarlin García with the tying run at the plate. With one objective — retire lefty Ryan McMahon — García did his job. And he got help from a sliding Slater in foul territory.
From Brebbia to García, the Giants’ bullpen made their runs worthy. San Francisco’s most maligned position group of the season came up big.