This was a subject of interest in a recent recap. I’m not sure if it was a week ago or a month ago; the poison grains of gray sand in this second-half desert are indistinguishable until you have to fish one out of your eyeball. But I can’t let it go. It’s just so danged impressive, it needs to be featured in its own story.
The Giants don’t have a ninth-inning comeback this season. There have been 56 games in which they’ve entered the ninth inning behind. They are 0-for-56 in those games. They were unable to send any of them to extra innings, even. The good news is that the bullpen has been just as stingy on their end and wait I’m looking at the wrong column and nope that’s not right at all. The bullpen has been really good at allowing ninth-inning comebacks.
Did it on Sunday, they did. Santiago Casilla blew his seventh save of the season, and the Giants have lost six of those games. That’s a remarkable ratio on its own. He blew six saves last year, and the Giants still came back to win two of those games. He blew four saves in 2014, and the Giants won three of those games. Because that’s not an usual thing, see, for the closer to give up the lead, only to have the team retake the lead in extra innings.
The Giants can’t do that this season. They can’t come back in the ninth inning, either. It’s a special, fascinating combination, and please help me, I want to see if there’s been a Giants team that’s done this before. Or, rather, hasn’t done it. Is there a Giants team that went a whole season without coming back in the ninth inning, even if we include extra-inning games they would eventually lose?
My only caveat is that the Baseball-Reference Play Index search only lets you look for RBI, which means that games will be missed. Like if, say, a closer balked in the game-winning run, it wouldn’t show up in a search. But what are the odds of something random like that happening? Let’s stay grounded in reality, people.
Okay, so let’s look as far back as 1958, he said, knowing this would consume an entire morning, if not afternoon, and see how many ninth-inning RBI the Giants have in each season that tied or won a game they were about to lose.
|2015||Y||Sept. 15, Posey v. Chapman|
|2014||Y||Sept. 1, Sandoval v. Hawkins|
|2013||Y||Sept. 29, Peguero (!) v. Street|
|2012||Y||Sept. 30, Nady v. Street|
|2011||Y||July 14, Huff v. Bell|
|2010||Y||Sept. 4, Uribe v. Broxton (lol)|
|2009||Y||May 12, Sandoval v. Beimel|
|2008||Y||Sept. 10, Velez v. Lyon|
|2007||Y||Aug. 14, Winn v. Wickman|
|2006||Y||July 19, Durham v. Turnbow|
|2005||Y||Sept. 25, Winn v. Hoffman|
|2004||Y||Aug. 11, Durham v. Mesa|
|2003||Y||Sept. 14, Feliz v. Kolb|
|2002||Y||Sept. 12, Aurilia v. Hoffman|
|2001||Y||Sept. 26, Santiago v. Shaw|
|2000||Y||Sept. 11, Bonds v. Dotel|
|1999||Y||June 20, Rios v. Aguilera|
|1998||Y||Aug. 28, Johnson v. Leiter|
|1997||Y||Sept 10., Javier v. Eckersley|
|1996||Y||Sept. 15, Scarsone v. Wilkins|
|1995||Y||Sept. 29, Carreon v. Leskanic|
|1994||Y||Aug. 9, Lewis v. Myers|
|1993||Y||Aug. 22, Thompson v. Harvey|
|1992||Y||Sept. 20, McGee v. McDowell|
|1991||Y||Sept. 24, Bass v. Osuna|
|1990||Y||Aug. 29, Mitchell v. Sampen|
|1989||Y||Sept. 20, Litton v. Hartley|
|1988||Y||Sept. 9, Riles v. Smith|
|1987||Y||Aug. 10, Maldonado v. Meads|
|1986||Y||Sept. 28, Youngblood v. Niedenfuer|
|1985||Y||Sept. 4, Deer v. Toliver|
|1984||Y||Aug. 30, Leonard v. Holland|
|1983||Y||Sept. 21, Bergman v. Lucas|
|1982||Y||Sept. 30, Pruitt v. Smith|
|1981||Y||Sept. 15, Leonard v. Garber|
|1980||Y||Sept. 2, May v. McGraw|
|1979||Y||July 24, Littlejohn v. Murray|
|1978||Y||Sept. 2, Tamargo v. Christenson|
|1977||Y||Sept. 17, Thomasson v. Billingham|
|1976||Y||Sept. 14, Murcer v. Metzger|
|1975||Y||Aug. 12, Matthews v. Fryman|
|1974||Y||Aug. 20, Speier v. Hernandez|
|1973||Y||Sept. 13, Speier v. Snook|
|1972||Y||Sept. 9, Kingman v. Gullett|
|1971||Y||Aug. 21, Speier v. Renko|
|1970||Y||Sept. 26, Henderson v. Ross|
|1969||Y||July 26, Hart v. Hoerner|
|1968||Y||Aug. 16, J. Alou v. Wagner|
|1967||Y||Sept. 19, Davenport v. Jenkins|
|1966||Y||Oct. 2, Virgil v. Veale|
|1965||Y||Sept. 14, Mays v. Redmond|
|1964||Y||Sept. 20, Haller v. Cardwell|
|1963||Y||Sept. 13, J. Alou v. Haddix|
|1962||Y||Oct. 3, Davenport v. Williams|
|1961||Y||Sept. 18, Cepeda v. Hendley|
|1960||Y||Aug. 6, Long v. Law|
|1959||Y||Sept. 23, Mays v. Henry|
|1958||Y||Sept. 1, Schmidt v. Kipp|
There were a couple reasons why I wanted to do this. The first is that it’s cathartic to go back and look at alllllllll the ninth-inning comebacks in Giants history. Some of those were walk-off home runs. Some of them just set up a dismal extra-innings loss later. One of them was a bases-loaded walk that won the pennant against the Dodgers, after the Dodgers choked away a four-game lead with 10 games to play and a two-run lead in the ninth inning of the deciding tiebreaker game, which will never not be amazing.
But they were all ninth inning comebacks, and the second reason I wanted to do this is because it’s telling how many of them were in September. I just looked for the last one of every season, then moved on to the next season, and so many of them were in the final month. This isn’t because the Giants play better in September, historically, or because they’re coming back against rookie call-ups. It’s because IT SHOULDN’T BE THIS HARD TO COME BACK IN THE NINTH INNING. It happens about once every other month, give or take. Bad teams can do it. Teams in strike-shortened seasons can do it. Historically wretched teams can do it. The 1985 Giants, the worst team in franchise history, did it four times.
The third reason I wanted to do this is to remember some of those games. I’m a big fan of Eugenio Velez walking off against the Diamondbacks, for one.
The fourth reason is that I’m out of words about this Giants team, so I figured I’d write words about other Giants teams and see if that helped. It didn't.
Long post short: This would be the first Giants team in San Francisco history without a ninth-inning comeback. Every team gets ninth-inning comebacks. They Giants have been Johnny Ninthinningcomebackseed when it comes to other teams, sprinkling around the cheer and happiness for everyone else, but they’re completely unable to get the big hit in ninth to tie a game, take the lead, or even, gasp, win.
Please, remember this post when the Giants tie the game in the ninth against the Rockies this week, only to lose in the bottom of the ninth five minutes later. This is my gift to you.