Amidst a controversial call that ultimately led to the winning run, the San Jose Giants prevailed in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the Modesto Nuts, 3-2, on Wednesday. Alex Burg’s sacrifice fly with one out allowed Ehire Adrianza to tag and score from third, securing San Jose’s first series win since a sweep of Bakersfield June 13-15. Whether Adrianza should have been on third in the first place was hotly contested by Modesto manager Jerry Weinstein, who was ejected for arguing his case. Weinstein also did not see eye-to-eye with field umpire Jeremiah Faleafnu in the top of the first.
Giants reliever Ari Ronick picked up the win after working a perfect eighth inning, while Chuck Lofgren received a no-decision in his first start of the season. Lofgren threw four hitless innings and struck out three. Only his throwing error in the top of the fourth prevented him from being perfect. Andy Reichard bridged the gap between Lofgren and Ronick, holding Modesto at bay with two runs on four hits while his offense went to work. James Simmons led San Jose with a 3-for-4 night, including a double and the game-tying RBI in the bottom of the sixth.
The Giants scored first in the bottom of the second when three straight batters reached base. Tyler LaTorre’s leadoff walk was followed by Jose Flores’ base hit to right field. With runners at first and second and no outs, Simmons laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. But his sacrifice became a hit thanks to a miscommunication between Nuts third baseman Nolan Arenado and pitcher Daniel Perkins on whose responsibility it was to field the ball. When Perkins spun around and saw nobody covering third for the force out, San Jose had the bases loaded.
Perkins’ troubles were compounded during Gary Brown’s ensuing at-bat, as he uncorked a wild pitch that allowed LaTorre to scamper home for the game’s first run and a 1-0 Giants lead. Perkins emerged from the inning with no further damage, and Modesto caught a break when Flores strayed too far from third with his secondary lead and was picked off for the second out.
After Lofgren’s exit following the fourth inning, Reichard took over on the mound and was met by a Josh Rutledge double to the wall in left-center on the first pitch he threw. Nuts designated hitter Jared Clark’s infield single in the next at-bat moved Rutledge to third, giving Modesto runners at the corners to start the fifth.
The Nuts scored their first run using information gathered from the previous night. On Tuesday, Modesto’s Beau Seabury executed a squeeze bunt that resulted in a run when Giants pitcher Chris Heston committed a throwing error trying to cut off the run at the plate. Wednesday, the Nuts tried their hand at another safety squeeze and were successful again. Jose Gonzalez’s sacrifice plated Rutledge to tie the game, 1-1. Clark scored right behind his teammate in the next at-bat when Scott Robinson grounded into a fielder’s choice, giving Modesto a 2-1 advantage.
Modesto would not score again, and Simmons’ single in the sixth brought Burg in to tie the game at 2-2. Simmons and Burg accounted for two of the three base hits in the inning.
The drama unfolded in the home half of the ninth after Ronick sat the Nuts down in order in the top half on three fly outs to Brown in center. Adrianza connected on a double down the right field line off of Modesto reliever Mike Marbry. After a Jarrett Parker walk, Tommy Joseph’s stroke of brilliance led to more than the team bargained for. Joseph squared around to indicate a sacrifice bunt to move the runners up. As Marbry’s pitch came, Joseph pulled back and swung, hitting a high chopper over Arenado who had charged in from third. The ball bounded over him but found Rutledge, who was covering the bag behind his teammate. Rutledge gloved the ball and stepped on third for the force, seemingly just ahead of Adrianza’s slide. Adrianza was ruled safe, however, resulting in Weinstein’s ejection.
Marbry collected himself, and his team, by striking out Ryan Cavan for the inning’s first out. The hot-hitting Burg then strode to the plate, representing San Jose’s second chance at winning the game. Burg’s single in the sixth extended his hitting streak to eight games.
“I’ve just been trying to get good pitches to hit and put good swings on them,” Burg said after the game.
He did just that after dueling with Marbry to a full count. Burg lifted a fly ball to left field deep enough for Adrianza to tag and score, sealing the 3-2 victory for the Giants.
With the win, San Jose is a California League best 55-28 overall and maintains a 4 1/2 game lead over Stockton in the North Division. However, the Giants are 5-9 to open the second half of the season, perhaps due in part to the recent revolving door of players. San Jose has promoted six players since June 9. These moves are in addition to having an inactive David Mixon and an injured Luke Anders, among other transfers throughout the system.
“Of course that’s tough losing guys,” Burg said. “Right now, we’re just kind of learning how to play together as a team. Once we come together as a team and gel, I think our team is really good and we can take off. I think the more we can play together, just relax, and go out and play baseball, the better we are going to be.”
The process of getting better continues Thursday at Municipal Stadium when the Giants welcome the Bakersfield Blaze to town for a four-game series. The last meeting between the clubs resulted in San Jose’s aforementioned sweep of the Blaze at home June 13-15.
The pitching matchup for Thursday’s opener pits a pair of starters looking to turn their fortune around. Kelvin Marte (5-5, 3.38) will be on the hill for the Giants in seek of his first win since defeating Bakersfield May 26. Since, Marte is 0-3 in five starts with an ERA of 4.67. His opponent, Josh Ravin (1-5, 4.66 ERA), has not won since his lone win April 22 at Inland Empire. Ravin has eight no-decisions on the year, including five of his last seven appearances. In his last 10 starts, Ravin is 0-4 with a 5.67 ERA.
Thursday’s game time is set for 7:00 p.m. Tickets are available by visiting www.sjgiants.com, or by calling (408) 297-1435.
Three Stars of the Game:
1. James Simmons (LF, SJ): 3-for-4, 2B, RBI
2. Ehire Adrianza (SS, SJ): 2-for-5, 2B, R
3 (tie). Alex Burg (DH, SJ): 1-for-4, RBI, R
Chuck Lofgren (P, SJ): 4.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 3 K
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