Bob Melvin

Giants' clutch pitching performance fuels win over Guardians

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

Seven different pitchers took the mound for San Francisco, with Cleveland never able to deliver a decisive blow 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 myriad injuries, reliever Erik Miller made the start and quickly escaped a first-inning jam after the Guardians had runners on the corners with one out, and cleanup hitter Josh Naylor at the plate.

Miller got Naylor to hit a hard grounder to Giants shortstop Nick Ahmed, who stepped on second base before firing to first, completing an inning-ending double play in the first of a handful of jams that San Francisco's pitchers escaped.

Spencer Bivens, who tossed three strong innings, worked his way out of trouble with only one run allowed after the Guardians racked up four consecutive hits to begin the fourth.

Ryan Walker, who earned the win, entered the game with the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the sixth, then induced a fielders choice and an inning-ending strikeout to eliminate Cleveland's strongest opportunity.

The heroics didn't stop there, as Tyler Rogers delivered in a huge spot with the Guardians having the potential tying run at second with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. 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 jam 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 went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base.

"They had a ton of guys on base, a ton of traffic and we ended up making huge pitches when we had to,” Giants manager Bob Melvin told reporters at Progressive Field. “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 against the AL Central-leading Guardians (54-32).

"They’re pretty relentless with the pressure they put on you," Melvin said. "At times, you got to make big pitches, obviously Walker was huge in the [sixth]. Tyler 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 at 44-45, three games back of the San Diego Padres for the National League's third and final wild-card spot.

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

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