D-backs beneficiaries of Hill's quick learning
PHOENIX -- Aaron Hill’s pregame study session got him to a nice, round 100.
A relative newcomer to the National League, Hill had never faced San Francisco left-hander Madison Bumgarner, so he spent extra time in the video room getting to know his opponent. Thus fortified, Hill homered in his first two to-bats to lead the Diamondbacks to their second straight 5-4 victory over the Giants at Chase Field on Saturday.
"You know what he’s got, obviously," Hill said of Bumgarner. "You can go back (to the tape) and see his tendencies with an 0-0 count or a 1-0 count. You do your homework and hopefully be as prepared as you can be for the day.
"He’s got great stuff. I just told myself to relax. (Friday) was a little nerves maybe, just trying to hit the ball too hard. Just take some deep breaths and see what happens. I got some pitches to hit and luckily did good damage with it. The main thing: You still have to get your pitch. You look for a ball up in the zone and put a good swing on it."
Hill kept a cut fastball just inside the left-field foul pole for a quick run in the first inning. He then drove a fastball into the left-field seats for a two-run homer in the second and a 4-0 lead, enough of a head start for Daniel Hudson and the bullpen to manage.
Hill’s fourth career two-homer game got him to 100 career homers, and in two at-bats Saturday, he equaled the number of homers he had in 33 games with the D-backs last season after being acquired with John McDonald from Toronto for the stretch run last Aug. 23.
After hitting eighth in the opener Friday, Hill was back in the No. 2 spot in the order Saturday, the spot he filled for most of the final six weeks last year. After Hill’s first home run, John McDonald -- he and Hill played together for 6 1/2 years in Toronto -- told manager Kirk Gibson that Hill should hit eighth at least once a week to "(tick) him off."
"I think 'Gibby' knows not one guy in this room cares where we hit. That’s a part of what makes you successful, too, because if you are just for yourself, it’s going to affect the team," Hill said.
The D-backs made it two in a row against the Giants, considered to be their top challengers in the NL West, with a drastically different lineup. Only No. 3-4 hitters Justin Upton and Miguel Montero were in the same spots in the order, although that is nothing new. Gibson used 118 lineups last season.
Young, dropped from second to fifth, doubled in runs in the first and the fifth, the second for a 5-2 lead after a Pablo Sandoval homer got the Giants back within two runs in fourth. Sandoval now has three homers off Hudson; he's the only major leaguer with more than one.
Brett Pill’s pinch-hit homer made it 5-4 and drove Hudson out of the game with two outs in the seventh, but the D-backs bullpen shut the door again, with J.J. Putz earning his second save in as many days.
The D-backs, who had 48 come-from-behind victories in 2011, have had not needed to do that yet. They have seven runs in the first two innings of their first two games and have never trailed.
"'Hilly' coming out the gate and putting up a couple of runs in the first inning again ... it was huge for us to get that same kind of momentum carry into today," Young said.
Young, who homered Friday, was hit by a pitch in his last plate appearance but remained in the game, although he shook his right hand on his way to first base. The ball struck him in the part of right forearm about six inches from his wrist, he said.
"I have plenty of meat right there," Young said. "Got lucky with that one."
Arizona will take a seven-game winning streak against San Francisco into the final game of the three-game series Sunday. The D-backs swept the Giants here last Sept. 23-25, when they clinched the NL West title. Playing the Giants does get the D-backs’ attention, Young said.
"With the Giants, even though you would like to have the same intensity against every team, I’m sure deep inside, the majority of us, you create a little more fire under you when you are playing teams in your division," Young said.
"There is a nice little fire under us when we play the Giants, and (that's) why we play good baseball."
Hudson had a strong spring, striking out 19 while allowing only nine hits in 19 innings, and he brought that into his first start of the regular season. Hudson retired the first eight hitters Saturday before Bumgarner lined a 2-0 fastball into left field with two outs in the third inning.
Cabrera, the biggest addition to the Giants' lineup this season, singled and Pablo Sandoval homered as the first two batters of the fourth, and Aubrey Huff looped a double down the left-field line with one out in the inning.
Hudson, who talked about spring about his determination to not let frustration compound bad innings, recovered to blow a 94 mph fastball past Brandon Belt for his second strikeout and then got Ryan Theriot on a bouncer to second base on an 84 mph changeup to end the inning. Pill’s homer in the seventh came on a slider, a pitch Hudson worked on this spring.
"Obviously, two mistakes," Hudson said. "Paid for it."
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