What a difference a few innings makes.
When the San Diego Padres led the San Francisco Giants 6-3 going into the eighth inning, I started penning this recap. This was my opening sentence:
This game was stupid in many ways, because once the San Diego Padres took a four-run lead, it felt like fait accompli that the San Francisco Giants would lose.
And now, two innings later, all I can think about is how fun and invincible this Giants squad is.
Okay, so maybe I’m overreacting (I’m definitely overreacting). Hyperbole aside, that was a sensational, beautiful, highly memorable game, the likes of which we’ll remember for the duration of the season, which is at once both very long and very short.
So how did we get there, with “there” being a place where I’m prompted to profess my love for Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano in the headline? Well let’s actually skip that part, because it’s not as fun. Just know that the Padres once again hit a pair of disastrously loud home runs that made you think “damn, I wish the Giants would do a dinger.”
In fairness, the Giants did. They had solo shots by Yastrzemski in the third inning and Alex Dickerson in the sixth, and just like that the team had doubled their home run production on the year.
But because the rest of the offense was mostly useless, those two home runs were only worth a combined two runs, even though the Padres got five runs on theirs.
So fast forward to the eighth inning. The Giants trail 6-3. A Dickerson walk sandwiched between outs gives the Giants one on, but two out. Brandon Crawford finds the right field grass for a single, and your pessimistic mind thinks, “great, of course they’re going to bring the tying run to the plate, just to toy with me when we all know they’ll fail.”
It’s the knowing they’ll fail part that changes things. Once you think you know what happens, it ceases to be true. That’s how they get you.
And by “they” I mean “Donovan Solano.”
Bye, bye, baby!— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 30, 2020
@DonovanSolano17 | #SFGiants pic.twitter.com/vxsAmliKjO
I squealed. I’m not ashamed to admit it.
To the ninth we go, and Tyler Rogers had his best inning of the year, making up for a walk by getting Tommy Pham to bounce into a double play.
And so we head to the bottom of the ninth, with the Giants only having one path to victory: a walk-off.
Yastrzemski led things off, and let me preface this all by saying that Yastrzemski entered the game as the best Giant in this young season. And when he came up in the ninth he was already 2-4 with a home run.
And on the sixth pitch of the at bat, a fastball high and in from a left-handed pitcher, Yastrzemski absolutely launched one.
WALK OFF SPALSH HIT FOR YAZ— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 30, 2020
And the socially distanced celebration at the end pic.twitter.com/X69Jsg01fj
One of the most intriguing storylines of the year was whether Yastrzemski could maintain the stellar play he brought to the Giants a year ago. Even in this era, players don’t just suddenly break out in their late 20s very often and have it be sustainable.
We’re only six games in, but he’s picked up where he left off, and then some. He’s been the only Giant to start each game, and he’s hitting .409/.500/.773.
He can hit.
If you’ve been watching the NBC Sports Bay Area broadcasts, you might have noticed a new sponsored segment. This happens every year, as companies want to give broadcast stations money to try and pretend that a consumer product seamlessly mirrors a niche baseball play.
You know the type: “This fumbled double play-turned single play is brought to you by diet Twizzlers, the perfect snack for almost turning a double play,” and “Now time for our warning track fly out of the game, presented by the used Fiat dealer in Cupertino.” That sort of thing.
The 2020 flavor of the year is the Roman Split Screen, where a play is shown from multiple angles at the same time, with a giant Roman logo. Roman is a men’s health brand, which is to say they’re a viagra seller that throws in a few hair growth products to look the part.
Anyway, the Roman Split Screen was a replay of the home run by Dickerson, the man who incites a phallic chant in the dugout every time he hits a home run.
In fairness, he got some wood on that ball. Really stroked it over the center field wall, which is a hard place to hit a home run.
️ IT ️ IS ️ OUTTA ️ HERE!— SFGiants (@SFGiants) July 30, 2020
Tyler Anderson picked off two runners in one inning, which is not something I can ever remember happening.
Not only did he pick off two runners, but the second one — Fernando Tatis Jr. — was almost picked off one throw earlier, prompting the broadcasters to say “Anderson would’ve had him with a better throw.”
And then he had a better throw.
If you’re a Padres fan you probably thought they were both balks, which blah blah blah, tell it to someone who cares.
They definitely were balks, just ... tell it to someone who cares.