SAN JOSE, CA - Conner Menez tossed six effective innings with just one run allowed and closer Dylan Rheault escaped a jam in the top of the ninth to lift the San Jose Giants to a 3-2 victory over the Stockton Ports on Friday evening at Municipal Stadium. Stockton had the potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position with none out in the ninth before Rheault retired three straight hitters to slam the door. The Giants (6-3) have now won the first two games of the series versus the Ports.
Menez (1-0) became the first San Jose starting pitcher to complete the sixth inning this season. The left-hander scattered six hits, struck out six and did not issue a walk during his masterful performance. Rheault notched his first save of the year.
Aramis Garcia (1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) and Gio Brusa (1-for-3, HR, RBI) each homered for the Giants to lead the offensive attack.
San Jose jumped out early against Stockton starting pitcher Dustin Hurlbutt scoring twice in the bottom of the first. Daniel Carbonell led off the frame by drawing a walk before Garcia stepped to the plate with one out and launched the first pitch of his at-bat over the fence in left for a two-run homer. The home run, Garcia's third of the season, gave the Giants a 2-0 lead.
The Ports' only run against Menez came in the top of the third. Branden Cogswell led off with a single before Josh Vidales dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Eli White followed with an infield hit to put runners on the corners before Seth Brown's potential inning-ending double play grounder was mishandled by Dillon Dobson at second base. The error allowed Cogswell to score trimming the San Jose lead to 2-1. Menez though prevented further damage in the inning as he struck out Sean Murphy and retired Skye Bolt on a fly out to right.
In the fourth, Menez pitched around a one-out double from Tyler Ramirez to preserve the one-run lead lead. An inning later, Eli White singled with one out, but Brown's deep fly ball to center was caught by a leaping Johneshwy Fargas in front of the warning track before Murphy struck out. Menez then breezed through a 1-2-3 top of the sixth - his only perfect inning of the night.
With the score still 2-1, David Owen (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO) relieved Menez to begin the top of the seventh and needed just 10 pitches to retire the side in order. In the eighth, Eli White led off with a single, but Owen promptly set down the next three hitters to keep the Giants ahead.
Meanwhile, Stockton reliever A.J. Puk dominated the San Jose lineup from the fifth through the seventh innings to keep the Ports within striking distance. The former first round pick stuck out two batters in a perfect bottom of the fifth before fanning four Giants in the sixth (Jalen Miller reached first safely on a wild pitch during the inning). Puk then struck out another San Jose batter - his seventh punchout - as part of a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh.
Finally in the bottom of the eighth, the Giants broke through against Puk. With one out, Brusa belted a 1-2 offering over the wall in deep left for a solo home run. The round-tripper was Brusa's third of the year and it extended the San Jose lead to 3-1.
Rheault (1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO) was then summoned out of the Giants bullpen to begin the top of the ninth and immediately the right-hander ran into trouble. Chris Iriart led off with a single through the hole on the left side before Tyler Ramirez worked a full-count walk. Mikey White then lined an 0-2 pitch into right center for a single to load the bases with none out. Cogswell was up next and during his at-bat, Rheault uncorked a wild pitch allowing Iriart to score cutting the San Jose lead to 3-2. Ramirez, the potential tying run, also advanced to third while White, the go-ahead run, took second. Rheault though settled down as he eventually struck out Cogswell on a 3-2 pitch. Vidales was up next, but he struck out on three pitches for the second out of the inning. Eli White then grounded out weakly to second base ending the game and sending the Giants to the narrow win.
Hurlbutt (1-1) was saddled with the loss after yielding two runs (both earned) on four hits over 3 1/3 innings. He walked three and struck out five.
* Garcia and Brusa are tied with Rancho Cucamonga's Ibandel Isabel for the league lead in home runs. Garcia extended his hitting streak to seven games.
* Stockton out-hit San Jose 9-6 on Friday.
* The Ports were 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position (3-for-23 in the series).
* Menez's six strikeouts were also the most by a Giants pitcher this season.
* San Jose has started 2-0 at home for the first time since the 2012 season.
* Puk (4 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 SO) is rated the #2 overall prospect in the A's organization according to Baseball America.
* Ryan Howard (0-for-4) saw his hitting streak snapped at seven games.
* Fargas (2-for-3) was the only Giants player to finish with a multi-hit game.
* Friday marked Rheault's first save opportunity of the season.
The Giants will look for a three-game sweep of the Ports when the teams conclude their series on Saturday evening. First pitch at Municipal Stadium is scheduled for 5:00 PM. Mike Connolly (1-0, 1.69 ERA) is slated to start on the mound for San Jose while Stockton is expected to counter with Brett Graves (0-0, 1.23 ERA). Saturday is the 6th annual Salute to the Military Night presented by Operation: Care and Comfort. The Giants will wear special camouflage uniforms and the entire evening will be dedicated towards the military. Active military members and their family members will receive complimentary general admission tickets for the evening. The first 1,000 fans will also receive the highly anticipated 2017 Military Trading Card Set, presented by Operation: Care and Comfort. The 40-card set is complete with incredibly heroic and decorated military personnel including Gus Bochy, the father of San Francisco Giants Manager, Bruce Bochy and several Purple Heart recipients. For tickets to the game, call (408) 297-1435 or visit sjgiants.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.