Giants win Game 3 on walk-off error, take 2-1 series lead over Cardinals

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Cardinals left-handed specialist Randy Choate was brought into a 4-4 game in the bottom of the 10th inning to face left-handed hitter Brandon Crawford. He walked him.

Then right-handed hitter Juan Perez tried to bunt Crawford over to second base, but botched two attempts. Forced to swing away, he lined to a two-strike single to left field.

Choate remained in the game to face left-handed hitter Gregor Blanco, who botched his first bunt attempt and then got his second bunt attempt down. Choate fielded it on the third base side of the mound and threw the ball away down the right field line.

Game over. Giants win on a walk-off error in an inning that went like no one involved probably planned. Sort of like these playoffs, overall.

And the game was plenty weird even before extra innings. San Francisco scored four first-inning runs off Cardinals starter John Lackey, who then recovered to toss five shutout frames before being removed with only 79 pitches. The first three relievers out of St. Louis’ bullpen tossed one shutout inning apiece before Choate came in and things got crazy.

San Francisco’s bullpen was even better, as four relievers combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings after starter Tim Hudson was left in to serve up a game-tying homer to Randal Grichuk in the seventh inning.

And last but not least: Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval made a great defensive play in the top of the 10th inning, fielding Matt Holliday’s hard-hit ball down the line that almost surely would have scored Jon Jay from first base and put the Cardinals up 5-4.

Marlins, Giants get into heated beanball war

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You may have heard that Giants closer Hunter Strickland broke his hand punching a door in frustration after Monday night’s subpar performance. He’ll miss six to eight weeks as a result. Strickland came in to protect a 4-2 lead but ended up giving up three runs. The tying run was knocked in by Lewis Brinson on a single to right field. Brinson moved to third base on a go-ahead single by Miguel Rojas, which prompted manager Bruce Bochy to take Strickland out of the game.

On his way to the dugout, Strickland started chirping at Brinson. Much like Bryce Harper and Strickland, Brinson and Strickland have a bit of a history. Last Thursday, Brinson handed Strickland a blown save with a sacrifice fly to deep center field. Brinson was happy to help his team tie the game, pumping his fast and saying, “Let’s go” at no one in particular. That rubbed Strickland the wrong way. Everything seems to rub Strickland the wrong way.

During Tuesday night’s game, Giants starter Dereck Rodriguez threw at Brinson with the first pitch, a 92 MPH fastball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher issued warnings to both benches. Manager Don Mattingly came out to argue, suggesting that his team hadn’t done anything wrong so it was unfair to essentially take the inside part of the plate away from his pitchers. On his way back to the dugout, Mattingly could be seen saying, “You’re next” to catcher Buster Posey.

The Giants scored twice in the bottom of the second against Dan Straily to extend their lead to 3-0. Posey came to the plate with a runner on first base and one out. Straily hit Posey with a 91 MPH fastball on the first pitch, prompting ejections of both Straily and Mattingly. Posey was hit on the arm. If the pitch had come in a bit lower and hit Posey on the wrist or hand, Posey might have had to go on the disabled list for a couple months. Or if the pitch had hit Posey a couple of inches higher, in the head, then who knows what would have happened.

Things calmed down from there, thankfully. The two clubs have one more game against each other in San Francisco on Wednesday and that will be the final time they meet this season. If anything further is going to happen — and hopefully, nothing happens — then it will come tomorrow.

Straily will almost certainly be facing a suspension and a fine, as will Mattingly. It’s less clear if Rodriguez and/or Bochy will be reprimanded for throwing at Brinson, even though it was fairly obvious the pitch was intentional. Regardless, the punishments amount to just one missed start for the pitchers, which isn’t nearly enough of a detriment to deter beanball wars.