The San Francisco Giants’ bats awakened today, unleashing havoc on the unsuspecting Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays implemented their strategy of starting the game with a relief pitcher, better known now as an opener, to mixed results.
It’s almost like they don’t know the Giants at all. Starting pitchers are their kryptonite, and relief pitchers their bread and butter. Before this game, the Giants hadn’t scored a run before the fourth inning. And while opener Ryne Stanek did his job and kept it scoreless through two, the Giants were already in the late innings in their minds, rallying in the third and fifth innings.
The game started off a little rough, with Samardzija walking Tommy Pham, who would get doubled in by Ji-Man Choi. This was not the last time the two of them would cause problems for Samardzija in this game.
Later, in the third inning, we saw some of the funkiest (in a good way!) offense I’ve seen from this team in a while. Kevin Pillar led off the inning with a bunt that he beat out, sliding in safely. He stole second, and Mike Zunino probably shouldn’t even have tried to throw him out, but he did and it sailed into the outfield, allowing Pillar to take third as well.
Joe Panik walked, setting up Samardzija with a bunt opportunity, which he executed well. It wasn’t deep enough to score Pillar, but it advanced Panik.
[Read in the voice of The Count from Sesame Street]
Two. Two bunts! Ah, ah, ah!
Anyway, Pillar tagged up on a Steven Duggar sac fly to score the first run. Brandon Belt (who had been robbed in the cruelest of fashions in the first inning when he hit a ball to the farthest part of the park where you can hit a ball on the right field line and still record an out) singled to right field. Panik took off at the sound of the bat and beat Austin Meadows’ throw home to score the second.
The Rays had a rally of their own in the fifth inning. Samardzija was not missing any bats as he gave up three consecutive singles to load the bases with no outs. The only saving grace was an exceptional play by Pillar, who made a diving catch to get Pham out and limit the damage to one run. This brought up Choi, who singled to right field to score a second run when Willie Adames just beat the throw home by Gerardo Parra, and retook the lead for the Rays. This ended Samardzija’s day, and Travis Bergen entered to get the final out.
Many fans probably thought that was the ballgame. Sure, we can hope that the Giants will score two runs and hold their opponents to one. But more than that is like asking for a miracle. Or so many might have thought after how this season has played out thus far. But the fun was only just starting.
With Ryan Yarbrough pitching, Panik walked to lead off the inning. And then Connor Joe — dear, sweet, baby-faced Connor Joe — got his first big league hit and everyone lost it!
Duggar followed that up with a double to left field, which scored Panik easily, but they sent Joe as well and he JUST beat the throw at the plate, scoring his first run as well. My notes at this point simply say “HIS FACE!!!!” and this is probably why:
That made three RBI for Duggar, and not to be outdone, Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer in the next at bat for his second and third RBI as well. Who knew baseball could be this fun?
For the second time in the game, Belt came up clutch and gave the Giants the lead.
Now, it wouldn’t quite be a Giants game if we didn’t have a little torture in the late innings. The Rays managed to score another run against Sam Dyson in the sixth inning, and Will Smith came in in the ninth to close and it was a bit of a struggle.
With the tying run at the plate for nearly the entire inning, Smith was facing Pham with two outs and it was a battle. A battle that Pham looked likely to win, as he hit a soaring fly ball out to Parra in left field that had him backing up ever closer to the wall, where he got the final out on the warning track, allowing thousands of people to finally take a deep breath.