Brandon Crawford made a game-saving diving catch in the bottom of the ninth inning and Pablo Sandoval smashed a home run to the opposite field in the top of the tenth inning to give the Giants a 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks and clinch the three game series. This is not a lead from 2012.
That was a classic Giants win if there’s still such a thing. Strong pitching and stellar defense to hold the opponent in check, laborious, but just barely effective enough offense to eke out a lead. This episode could’ve fit in nicely with any season from 2010-2016. As much as it’s not worth longing for the past in the unpleasant present, it’s still a good thing when a team can scratch that nostalgia itch.
We’ve been around the block enough times over the last few years to know better than to make some grand proclamation based on a single series, but it’s impossible not to feel optimistic after the Giants won today’s game in extra innings.
Pablo Sandoval, who had been dead and buried, came in to pinch hit for the second day in a row and for the second day in a row, he homered. He’s now tied with Brandon Belt for the most home runs on the team (7).
Brandon Crawford, whose batting line stretching back to midway through last season had made him all but dead and buried, made one of the greatest plays he’s ever made to preserve a 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth.
Brandon Crawford with the save. pic.twitter.com/te7bU2Rimb— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) May 19, 2019
There’s no real third example I can make here to give this recap a pure “rule of three”, but after Drew Pomeranz exited in the fifth inning, the bullpen pitched 5.1 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out seven. The pitching was the thing wherein the Giants hung around in this game.
This doesn’t mean the Giants are back, it just means that the best parts of their talents, individually and collectively, are still there. We might not get to see them flash what made them so special multiple times in a given week, but they will flash them from time to time, and we must absolutely appreciate these moments when they do occur.
Here’s what I’m talking about: watch Buster Posey reacting to Pablo Sandoval’s home run.
That’s surprise and joy. His teammate still has his old tricks.
Oh wait — I just thought of a rule of three.
Identified Schierholtz by those forearms pic.twitter.com/H1nauxCtsv— McCovey Chronicles (@McCoveyChron) May 19, 2019
After Mac Williamson struck out on three pitches to end the third inning, the Giants made 18 consecutive outs until Mac Williamson would draw a walk with two outs in the ninth inning.
Virtually every at bat in this game was absolutely brutal. Like last night’s starter Zack Godley, Robbie Ray’s grunt that followed every pitch became the soundtrack of aggravation. The Giants never seemed like they were getting beat with stuff so much as sequencing, and that’s where the middle innings became nearly impossible to watch with any interest.
It didn’t help that Joe West, who has singlehandedly made me reconsider my view of the umpire industry based solely on the past two days, could not decide on a strike zone.
Sometimes, a pitch away was called a strike. Sometimes, a pitch at the knees was just a ball. Here was Steven Duggar’s strikeout in the top of the fourth, in what would become the third of four consecutive strikeouts by Giants hitters against Robbie Ray:
Look, I’m not sure if that’s close enough to take at this point. Either batters can draw a walk or they can’t. Either there’s a strikeout or there isn’t. The strike zone was not completely a factor in this one, but given how achingly slow and boring — I-I mean tense, tight, and highly competitive — the middle innings of this game were, I can’t help but feel that a more consistent strike zone might’ve made the whole thing run more smoothly.
Drew Pomeranz did not have a great start in the final analysis, but he did have a no hitter through the first three innings on just 46 pitches. He’d wind up throwing 37 in the fourth inning after the Diamondbacks got their first hit of the game... which looked like this:
This GIF is super sped up because... well... I forgot how to make GIFs, I guess. Sorry about that. Still, you get the gist of it — a ball deflected off him. As soon as he pitched from the stretch he was a different guy. He also, probably, had a really sore thigh to contend with.
Not only did his sharp start to the day unravel in short order after giving up a hit, he and Stephen Vogt didn’t appear to have a good rapport. In the third inning, Vogt setup away for a breaking ball and got a fastball. In the fourth, Vogt setup inside for a breaking ball and got a fastball. That time, the ball got away from Vot and allowed the runner on third to score.
It could’ve been much worse — Pomeranz’s last start before the IL stint was a classic example of a pitcher unraveling — but it all worked out in the end. It’s unclear just how great of a catcher Vogt is behind the plate. On the one hand, he projects as an average or slightly below average defender, but on the other hand, the bullpen pitched 5.1 scoreless innings and Drew Pomeranz had a no hitter the first time through the order.
More on that story as it develops, as Vogt is unlikely to go anywhere in the near term. It’s enough that the Giants were able to win this game today old school style. This won’t be the formula a couple of years from now, but for a team that might be on its retirement tour, sometimes it’s really nice of them to just play the hits.
Oh shoot — nearly forgot. Will Smith gave us a now-rare closer strikes out the side montage. with his stellar work in the ninth inning against the heart of the Diamondbacks’ lineup: