Buster Posey hit the ball 4,089 feet, and Giants fans were happy. Everything else is secondary. The Giants might have been officially eliminated from postseason contention during this 17-inning game — we should probably look into that — but all that matters right now is that Posey hit a soaring, resplendent home run that cut through the fog, feathers, and melancholy.
This home run was closer to bouncing off a teammate’s car in the parking lot than off the Chevron car on the fence.
The entire game wasn’t this fun. For 17 innings, it was like baseball was putting a grubby finger an inch from your face and saying, “I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you, I’m not touching you.” You wanted to throw punches. You thought better of it. So you watched and watched and watched and stared and groaned and grimaced and laughed, and laughed? And laughed! And groaned and watched and stared. And laughed! Mostly stared, though.
I, for one, laughed at the equivalent of a Buster Posey bat flip:
The camera cut away right after that, but I assure you, it was as flamboyant as we can hope from a Posey home run. He took a half-second to exhale the sun and moon and stars and say “fuckinfinally” under his breath. Then he resumed his normal trot like nothing happened, like it was a normal home run.
That’s all you need to know about the game. It was long, and then it was over. It was over because one of the greatest players in franchise history did something that you’ll remember for 30 years. The next time a game gets to 13 innings, you’ll say something like ...
Remember that one game? Think it went 17 innings? And Buster Posey hit a homer to win it?
Heck, yes, we’ll remember it.
Went straight over the right-field fence and into the water.
No it didn’t.
Killed a man in a kayak.
How could you possibly think that’s true?
I was there.
There were other parts of the game, of course.
THAT WAS ONE GAME. It sure was an eventful game for a couple teams that refused to score. You’ll remember the fact that Posey hit a homer in the 17th, though. Everything else is secondary.
Like the part where it took the Giants nearly two full baseball games to score three runs against a pitching staff that hasn’t pitched well against anyone else, that set a major league record for home runs allowed last season.
Like the part where the Giants had all these weird walks and hit-by-pitches, and how the Reds went 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, and how they had 13 baserunners in extra innings. The Reds had a runner in every one of the extra innings, and they still couldn’t score.
Like the part where the Giants could have lost in 17 innings, dropping to 12-25 and wasting twice as much of your time while doing it, losing in a way that would have been even more offensive than usual. That’s all I could think about while the Reds were getting hitter after hitter on base. Robert Stephenson got on base! He’s a reliever and author of 19th-century adventure novels, not a hitter. But he was still on base, ready to score the go-ahead run.
None of it mattered because Posey hit a home run to Mars. The 2017 season has been the kind of season where you would have expected that ball to hit a seagull and bounce into the left fielder’s glove. Except Posey hit it too hard. It broke through the witchcraft and shattered the fractal planes of holy crap is it 1:31? Yeah, I’ll just leave it at “Posey hit the ball real hard-like” and move on to the next topic.
That next topic would be the Giants’ bullpen which ...
- Pitched nine scoreless innings. A shutout!
- Allowed a danged baserunner in every one of those innings, with some of them being very dumb baserunners. Not that the Reds players were dumb. But that they reached base under very dumb circumstances.
I’ll focus on the first part. There have been bullpen outings with that many scoreless innings before. I mean, here’s Gaylord Perry throwing 10 scoreless innings by himself in a 23-inning game that was the second game of a doubleheader. Still, for this bullpen to throw that many scoreless innings, regardless of the runners allowed, was absolutely special. And unexpected. And terrifying.
Bryan Morris is a great representative of how the bullpen did as a whole. Three innings. Four baserunners. That’s a perfectly respectable rate. He struck out two, which is another perfectly respectable rate. His ERA went from 10.38 to 6.14, which is certainly progress. (His FIP went down to 2.89, in case you think I’m making fun of him, which I’m not.) There was a moment where Morris had a three-ball count to Billy Hamilton, and I had a tweet all loaded up about how anyone who walks Hamilton in extra innings gets automatically released.
He came back. And he’s one of the biggest reasons the Giants won the game.
The only Giants reliever of the six in extra innings who didn’t walk anyone was George Kontos, so it feels like we should make him a card or something. The other pitchers kept allowing free baserunners, and it worked. Try it again next time, that’s my motto.
The Giants played 17 innings and won, which means it’s time for fun facts. Here’s the list of every Giants game that went 17 innings or longer in the regular season. I have to clarify “regular season” because ...
... but other than that, it’s a small list. The entire ‘70s came and went without a game this long. The ‘40s, too. There was one in the first decade of the ballpark, and there was one in 1998, but you get the general point, which is that this is rare.
The last home run in a 17th inning was in 2015. The Brewers were off to a similar start to the Giants, and I’m sure it felt good to end that awful game and celebrate for a little bit.
The Brewers didn’t win the World Series that year. The Giants probably won’t win the World Series this year. But after 17 innings, there was a dusting of magic and happy fun times for everyone who stayed up. I can respect that. Baseball can be fun, even when it’s frustrating as all hell. Here’s proof.
Man, Buster Posey hit that baseball a very long way.
Edit: This seemed important.