Giants’ clutch pitching performance fuels win over Guardians

Giants’ clutch pitching performance fuels win over Guardians originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

Runners on base don’t matter if you can’t drive them in, a lesson the Cleveland Guardians learned the hard way after repeatedly being stifled in key moments by the Giants‘ pitching staff Friday night.

Seven different pitchers took the mound for San Francisco, with Cleveland never being able to deliver a decisive blow in a big spot against any of them, managing just two runs despite racking up 11 hits and five walks in the Giants’ 4-2 win over the Guardians.

As the Giants’ rotation deals with a myriad of injuries, Erik Miller got the start before quickly escaping a first-inning jam after the Guardians had runners on the corners with one out, and cleanup hitter Josh Naylor at the plate.

In just one pitch, Miller got Naylor to hit a hard grounder to shortstop Nick Ahmed, who stepped on second before firing to first base, completing an inning-ending double play in the first of a handful of jams San Francisco’s pitchers wiggled their way out of.

Spencer Bivens tossed three strong innings, working his way out of trouble with minimal damage after the Guardians racked up four consecutive hits to begin the fourth inning.

Ryan Walker earned the win, entering the game with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, before inducing a fielders choice and an inning-ending strikeout to eliminate Cleveland’s strongest opportunity to light up the scoreboard.

The heroics didn’t stop there, as Taylor Rogers delivered in a huge spot with the Guardians having the tying run at second base with two outs in the bottom of the eight inning. Rogers got Bo Naylor to ground out to second, setting up Camilo Doval for a save situation where — yep, you guessed it — the flamethrowing right-hander had to escape a self-induced jame of his own.

After allowing the first two runners to reach base, Doval struck out All-Star third baseman José Ramírez before getting Josh Naylor to ground into a game-ending double play.

Cleveland got 11 runners in scoring position against San Francisco, but were unable to get a single one across the plate, which ultimately told the story of the game according to Giants manager Bob Melvin.

“They [Cleveland] went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position,” Melvin told reporters at Progressive Field. “They had a ton of guys on base, a ton of traffic and we ended up making huge pitches when we had to. That was the story of the game.”

Melvin lauded the clutch performance from his bullpen, gleefully recapping their ability to repeatedly escape danger inning after inning.

“They’re [Cleveland] pretty relentless with the pressure they put on you,” Melvin said. “At times, you got to make big pitches, obviously [Ryan] Walker was huge in the seventh. Tyler [Rogers] has two on in the eighth. Obviously first two guys get on in the ninth.

“Just got to stay with it, and make good pitches when you have some traffic.”

Friday’s win was San Francisco’s eighth in its last 11 games, moving the Giants within one game of .500, and three games back of the San Diego Padres for the National League’s third and final Wild Card spot.

While reinforcements are on the horizon with the returns of Blake Snell and Robbie Ray just around the corner, a win like tonight might provide a significant morale boost for a pitching staff that has been put through the ringer over the first half of the 2024 MLB season.

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