Slap me if you’ve heard me say this before in the last few days, but the San Francisco Giants entered Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Rockies needing to win. With only five games after Wednesday’s — and four of them against the San Diego Padres — the Giants needed to step into action.
When the sun rose, the Giants found themselves in a three-way tie for the two Wild Card spots, but losing the tiebreaker to the other teams in the race.
And when the sun set — or rather, a few hours after the sun set — the Giants found themselves in sole possession of the second Wild Card.
Because they won. As they needed to.
But for a while they toyed with not winning. Yet even as they did, they always felt in control which, admittedly, is an easier thing to say in hindsight than in real time.
The Rockies grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third inning, but the Giants limited the damage, and it felt like a matter of time before they struck.
And indeed, in the fourth inning, Evan Longoria took matters into his own hands and tied the game.
But the Rockies retook the lead the next inning, going ahead 2-1.
The Giants tied things in the bottom half of the inning, when the hottest hitter on the planet, Alex Dickerson, led off with a double. He took third on a Donovan Solano flyout, and after Brandon Belt walked (surprise surprise), Brandon Crawford knocked home the tying run with a sacrifice fly, before a Longoria walk knocked Rockies rookie starter Ryan Castellani out of the game.
In the gamethread I said the following about Castellani:
The Giants have an opportunity to go to work against a struggling rookie in Castellani. The right-hander has allowed 32 hits and 21 walks in 38.2 innings, with 11 home runs and 5 hit batters. Opportunity is knocking, and the Giants desperately need to answer.
They did and they didn’t. He walked off the mound having given up 5 hits and 5 walks in 4.2 innings, but having kept the Giants from getting the big hit. The Rockies needed to get just one batter out to keep Castellani’s line decent, and the game tied.
But if the Giants couldn’t get that big hit against Castellani, they apparently could against the bullpen.
Just two pitches after Castellani departed, Mauricio Dubón had the biggest hit of his career to give the Giants a comfortable lead.
Dubón has come a long way since the first few weeks of the season, when it looked like he could get optioned. Then he was a middle infielder struggling at the plate. Now he’s a starting centerfielder and a staple of one of MLB’s best offenses.
That was all the run support the Giants needed, but they added two more in the eighth, with a rally started by two guys who needed hits: Joey Bart led off the inning with a triple, which gave him two triples before his first career home run, just as we all expected. And then the recently recalled Steven Duggar singled him home.
As far as runs that aren’t needed go, that was darn productive.
On the other end of things, the Giants made a pitching move, and it worked. Caleb Baragar was the opener, and set down the top of the order easily. After allowing a leadoff double in the second he gave way to Logan Webb, who pitched 5.1 innings of 2-run ball (though he struck out just a single batter).
Tyler Rogers, Tony Watson, and Sam Selman were stellar in relief, with Watson having his 15th consecutive scoreless outing. He’s a weapon.
They were backed up by strong defense (we haven’t said that much this year), including a missile from the arm of Bart.
Joey ain’t having it?
The Giants won 7-2. They moved above .500, and into sole possession of a postseason spot. They have a better run differential than the Houston Astros.
They have one more game against the Rockies, but no matter what happens, they’ll enter the final series of the season with meaningful games.
Honestly, what more could you ask for?