But there would be no walk-off home run. There would be no celebration. There would only be a laughably disastrous tenth inning to swiftly undo what the team had spent a few innings building.
It was the Giants first foray into the new extra innings rule, in which a runner starts on second base.
It did not go well. I’m just going to walk you through it, batter by batter, so you can either relive the horrendous experience (if you watched the game), or know the horror we all sat through (if you didn’t). Let’s suffer together.
Tyler Rogers, who had pitched a clean ninth inning, was on the mound. The score is 6-6.
- Batter 1: Rogers walks Manny Machado, though in Rogers’ defense, the pitch was blatantly in the strike zone and should have been strike two.
- Interlude 1: That bad call knocked the wheels off of Rogers’ bus.
- Batter 2: Tommy Pham singles, scoring a run, and the Padres lead 7-6. That’s OK. The Giants get to start with a runner on second, too. They’ll get it back.
- Batter 3: Jurickson Profar squares to bunt and Rogers plunked him straight on the johnson. That’ll teach you to play baseball.
- Batter 4: Greg Garcia singles, scoring two runs. Now it’s 9-6 and things look bad.
- Batter 5: Ty France singles and it’s 10-6.
- Interlude 2: Pitching coach Andrew Bailey comes out to talk to Rogers.
- Interlude 3: After Bailey leaves, manager Gabe Kapler comes out and calls for a new pitcher.
- Interlude 4: In comes Rico Garcia, and out goes Rogers.
- Interlude 5: After Rogers makes it to the dugout, the umpires inform Kapler that actually you can’t pull a pitcher immediately after a visit from the pitching coach. It’s a basic rule that somehow the Giants forgot about. Rogers has to face at least one more batter.
- Interlude 6: Mike Krukow calls this an “embarrassing moment” for Kapler, then repeats himself a few seconds later.
- Interlude 7: Rogers returns to the mound.
- Batter 6: Austin Hedges plops the ball right in front of home plate on the first pitch, just far enough for Tyler Heineman to pick it up, dive towards home, and be too late to tag out Greg Garcia. It’s now 11-6.
- Interlude 8: For the second time, Rogers is taken out of the game. He failed to record an out in the inning.
- Batters 7-10: For the second time, Rico Garcia comes in. He allows a run to score on a single, but otherwise handles things nicely.
The Giants did get back that run, by the way. Rather easily. It didn’t matter, except for window dressing, as the Giants lost 12-7.
I don’t want to harp on the inning from hell much, but we do need to talk about how poorly Rogers is throwing the ball. The Giants spent much of the offseason and preseason hyping him up as the next great reliever. It made you want to believe.
They’ve put their trust in him, as he’s now appeared in five of the team’s seven games. But here’s his line: 4.0 innings, 9 hits, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts, 9 earned runs.
That is bad, bad, not good at all.
The game wasn’t all bad. Not at all. Like I said, the Giants mounted another wild comeback to overcome a 6-1 deficit and it was fun as hell. I’ll give you one chance to guess who the offensive catalysts were. If you guess anyone other than Donnie Barrels and Baby Yaz, I invite you to take your fandom elsewhere.
A day after Solano went 2-4 with the game-tying 3-run home run in the eighth inning, and Yastrzemski went 3-5 with two home runs, including a walk-off shot in the ninth, the fearless duo was back in action. Yastrzemski was 2-4 with a triple and a walk. Solano was 4-5 with 3 doubles. They combined to knock in half of the team’s runs, and they scored four of them.
They can hit.
Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria returned to the lineup which was a welcome sight. Belt stepped into the batter’s box and was immediately confronted with this wild and wacky shift:
This shift feels unnecessary pic.twitter.com/Z8Fqtj2CuS— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) July 31, 2020
That’s third baseman Manny Machado, out there acting as the first layer in the right field double-double.
Belt looked that shift in the eye and did the reasonable thing: he said to hell with it, and drew 3 walks.
Longoria was 1-4, but smoked a few baseballs, most notably a line drive into the gap with the bases loaded and no outs that had an exit velocity of 98.9 mph and an expected batting average of .440. He also lined out on contact that had an expected batting average of .700 (in fairness, eight of the nine swings on the day with the highest expected batting average were by Padres, so I don’t mean to suggest that the Giants were horribly unlucky).
Despite the impressive comeback, the Giants squandered plenty of opportunities that could have kept them from ever seeing the tenth inning.
They put two runners on with no outs in the second and third innings, but got nothing. They had the bases loaded in the fifth with one out, and got one run.
There were opportunities, and they capitalized on just enough of them to make it interesting, but on few enough to make you age five years in just three hours.
They were 2-16 with runners in scoring position, which ... yeah. Try winning with that. That’s what the Giants tried. And it’s what the Giants almost accomplished.