/takes deep breath
Sorry, I had to get that out of my system.
This will be one of those games we remember for the rest of our lives. You never know when one of these games will occur until you’re right in the middle of it.
And then the magic happened.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, the score was once again tied, this time at six runs a piece. Evan Longoria singled to start it off, before Stephen Vogt flied out. This was followed by what can only be described as a baseball’s revenge, as Scooter Gennett hit a ball that then hit him back, causing him to be called out.
This brought up Kevin Pillar, and with a 3-1 count and the struggling Brandon Crawford on deck, the Phillies opted to pitch to Pillar anyway, resulting in a triple that allowed Longoria to score easily. Which would have been enough to win, but the Giants weren’t just looking for a win. They were looking for glory.
With two outs, the Phillies intentionally walked Crawford to allow Will Smith to make his first plate appearance in his lengthy major league career. The third Giant to do so today, after Jandel Gustave and Trevor Gott both did so before him. Gustave went for the Santiago Casilla approach, not even remotely thinking about moving the bat, as he was likely instructed to do. Gott had a little more freedom and got a respectable line-out to Bryce Harper.
Will Smith was having none of that. I will present my notes from this moment, for posterity’s sake, as I was wonderfully interrupted:
Smith batting - ANOTHER first pitcher plate appearance, third of the da~OH MY GOD HE HIT A SINGLE TO SCORE TWO RUNS I CANT F***ING BELIEVE IT
Smith worked his way into a 3-1 count before smacking a single into right field, and scoring both Pillar and Crawford. He laughed the entire way to first base. He laughed for Brandon Belt’s entire plate appearance, where he got his second walk of the game. I’m pretty sure Smith laughed for the entirety of the rest of the game.
He's going to be talking about this one for ages. pic.twitter.com/d9MLWswZMi— cole kuiper (@cmkuiper) August 12, 2019
If he chooses to go the Jeremy Affeldt route and never stop referencing this moment, I don’t think anyone can blame him. He has earned that right. He was ESPN’s player of the game, even. When asked about his bat after the game, he told reporters that he asked Brad Grems to order him the same bat as Madison Bumgarner. A wise choice, as it turned out.
Smith got not one but two Gatorade baths during the post-game interview. And he was STILL laughing.
Whew. Okay. Now we have to dig into how this happened. You don’t have three relief pitchers making their batting debut in the same game for the same team if everything is going right. And friends, everything was not going right.
Conner Menez had a promising start in the first inning, striking out Harper and Rhys Hoskins before getting Jean Segura to fly out. And the Giants even did some rare first-inning damage to give him a lead to work with. Belt walked to lead off the inning, followed by a double from Mike Yastrzemski. Longoria singled them both in and it was looking like a promising start against the former Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta, who had the bullpen warming up for him in the first inning.
Little did we know.
Menez walked the first two batters he faced in the second, before allowing a single to Cesar Hernandez to load the bases. After striking out Arrieta, he walked Roman Quinn to hand the Phillies their first run on a platter. This was all with Harper on deck, who got to bat with bases loaded. He hit a two run single to give the Phillies their first lead of the night. Menez was pulled with two outs and Gustave came in to get the last one.
Gustave got into trouble of his own in the third inning, giving up back to back hits after recording the first out, which brought in Andrew Suárez. Suárez cashed in both runs, unfortunately, and allowed the Phillies to take a 5-3 lead.
A lead in this game, however, meant very little. The Giants tied it up in the bottom of the inning with a Yastrzemski solo shot, followed by a single from Longoria, a double from Gennett to score Longoria, and a single from Pillar to score Gennett and tie the game at 5 runs each.
Gotta love these Sunday Night Baseball games. They bump the start time to 4:00 pm, then spend half the game talking about how the shadows are making it very difficult to play and how 4:00 pm is a terrible time to start a ball game at this park. WE KNOW. That’s why games don’t start at this time!
And I’m sure the broadcasters do their very best to try to get some local information to include on the broadcast, but tonight Alex Rodriguez and Matt Vasgersian were just..slightly off about a lot of things.
One of the things that ended up being very foreshadowing was their repeated insistence on calling Splash Hits “splash landing home runs.” Despite it CLEARLY saying “Splash Hits” on the sign they were showing ON THE BROADCAST.
Well, to go with the flow, Scooter Gennett got a splash landing home run of his own, number 80 for the park, with a solo shot in the sixth to give the Giants a one-run lead. A lead they would give back in the eighth inning as Tony Watson got into the same kind of trouble as Gustave did. Will Smith came in to try to clean it up, and got a blown save on a sac fly for his trouble before managing to limit the damage to the one run. And the rest, my friends, is history.
Beautiful, strange and glorious history.
The Giants take a much needed series win over their fellow Wild Card contenders and head into the Bay Bridge Series on Tuesday on a high note.