For just the second time all year, the Giants scored at least nine runs. Do not look for the asterisks just yet. Do not look the gift game in the mouth. It’s always fabulous for the San Francisco Giants to steel themselves and engage the mysterious pentagon that bewitches them so. They scored nine times and won the game.
Nine runs! In one game! They’ve done it twice this season, which pulls them ahead of the Padres for 29th place. Take a deep breath and appreciate the moon and stars for a moment.
Of course, it should have been a nice, quiet 5-3 win, but there was a Mark Melancon blown save. And in that four-run 10th inning, it was like the Giants were controlling where the ball went with a Wiimote. Or maybe the Brewers were controlling where their fielders went with a Wiimote and their feet. And then there’s the matter of the two double-play balls that ended up being singles. Either way, the outcome was good, if difficult to replicate the next time the Giants want a four-run inning.
The Giants won, 9-4, in extra innings, and they split a series on the road against a contending team. A list of 10 heroes, in descending order:
1. Mark Melancon
Hey, he got the win.
2. Austin Slater
Not only did he hit his first major league home run, but he absolutely destroyed it.
I was listening to this on the radio when it happened, and I was treated to a classic Duane Kuiper call:
After the OUTTA HERE, he clarified that the ball actually hit the scoreboard. And I thought, “Waaait a second. How can a ball hit the scoreboard in center field and be an ambiguous homer?”
When you watch the video, though, it totally makes sense. It fooled Dave Flemming, too, with the ball appearing to be bouncing toward the fence because of some sort of optical illusion.
It takes one rewatch to realize the ball was completely annihilated. It looked like a homer off the bat, but the swing didn’t look like a home run swing, if that makes sense. It was more of a traditional line-drive swing, even though it had the right sound, so when it was back on the field, bouncing around, it was easy to believe that your eyes and ears deceived you.
Even better: The ball bounced onto the field, and we didn’t have to follow a story about some goofball who wanted tickets for life and a signed Honus Wagner card in exchange for it. Congratulations to Austin Slater! He also had a walk and a HBP, bringing that OPS up to .782.
When the game ended, it was the second-highest OPS in the lineup. To sample size!
3. Eduardo Nuñez
Not only does he keep hitting like he wants to play for a contender, with two more hits and two runs driven in, but he also saved the game with his catlike reflexes:
If that gets by him or ticks off his glove, who do we blame? Nuñez? Heck, no. That ball was going 110 mph off the bat. It would have been Melancon’s fault. Nuñez was already absolved. He was within his rights to say, “Screw that. Serves him right.”
Instead, he saved the game. The Giants might not have deserved this win, but we did.
4. Joe Panik
The remaining goals of the season are simple, if plentiful. One of the biggest ones, though, is to make sure that Panik can still hit. Because if he can, the Giants have the two-way threat they thought they could count on, and he’ll be around for years. If not, they’ll have Darwin Barney, which has its pros and cons.
I’d prefer Panik to hit, thank you. Along with his two hits (including a homer), he was also responsible for the would-be sac fly that twisted Eric Thames into a pretzel that was the shape of first base.
Panik also made a brilliant defensive play, but you could have guessed that. It’s like he melted down the Gold Glove from last year and smeared the metal over his pores. If you can think of a better way to ingest a Gold Glove, I’m all ears. But he did it, and he’s better for it.
5. Aaron Hill
That’s twice in this series that the Giants picked up a key pinch-hit from Hill in the late innings, which brings the season total for clutch pinch-hits for the entire team up to ... three. But apparently Hill likes hitting in Milwaukee, and it’s fun to watch.
Normal teams get bench contributions, you know. You’ve forgotten.
6. The bullpen (other than, well, you know)
Bryan Morris, Josh Osich, Hunter Strickland, and Derek Law combined for four innings of scoreless baseball, all in high-leverage situations.
Yep, the bullpen was solid.
Nothing wrong with the bullpen.
7. Those fellas with a couple hits and an RBI and/or a run scored
I like those fellas. Denard Span had two hits and a run scored. He almost had a bases-clearing double, too, but it was foul by millimeters. Gorkys Hernandez was 3-for-5 and in the middle of several rallies. Nick Hundley had two hits and an RBI, even if he also chucked a ball into Oshkosh trying to throw out a base stealer with two outs.
8. Johnny Cueto
He wasn’t very good, but I appreciate that he wasn’t a whole lot worse, too. He lacked command and control, walking four batters for the first time since last August, and he was hit hard, too. But he kept the Giants in the game, even if they’ll lose four out of every five of those starts.
Mostly, I was disappointed because I was expecting a two-hour game on Getaway Day. This is because I never, ever learn.
9. Eric Sogard
Just because I’m fascinated by him. He’s hitting .414/.541/.672 with 15 walks and six strikeouts this year. He’s already hit a career high in homers (three) in just 74 plate appearances.
I get to continue being fascinated, while writing about a Giants win. That’s the best-case scenario. I wouldn’t drug test him; I’d open him up and look for gears or vibranium or both.
10. This guy
He couldn’t have hurt, really.
A sweep on the road over a team that’s contending is an excellent result. The Giants might not make the postseason, but they’ll have little oases like this for us. When you stumble upon them, you don’t feel so bad about following this silly sport.