For five innings on Wednesday, the San Francisco Giants looked dead in the water against the Arizona Diamondbacks. They were not only losing, but making it look boring. Johnny Cueto didn’t have it, and allowed 4 runs by the time the fifth inning concluded. The Giants had worked just two baserunners, and had only two at bats with runners in scoring position.
It looked as though they would listlessly loaf into a four-game set with the Los Angeles Dodgers, which is not exactly how you want to approach a series against a world-beating team that just kicked your ass.
And then they activated the two Ts: thrill and torture. Staples of every good Giants team since the 90s.
The thrill was first activated in the sixth inning when the Giants, trailing 4-0, finally rallied. Steven Duggar — who has been red hot as of late — entered as a pinch-hitter for Cueto, and started the inning off with a single. Duggar is the fastest player on the roster but hasn’t had a chance to get out of second gear on many occasions this season. So he jumped on the opportunity to show off his top line speed on a Mike Yastrzemski double, and scored easily on a ball hit to a part of the park where you expect the runner to stop at third.
Yaz's bat and Duggar's wheels get the Giants on the board pic.twitter.com/xf1txOTJ1Q— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) May 27, 2021
The Giants were on the board, and they’d add to it when Yastrzemski took third on a wild pitch, and scored on a Buster Posey groundout.
Just like that, the lead was snipped in half, and the Giants looked like a team with life.
But that was just the amuse-bouche for the real thrill of the game. Cutting a lead in half in the sixth inning with some of the usual suspects warms the belly and whets the appetite, but it doesn’t fully titillate.
For that we need a later inning — oh, let’s say the eighth. And we need a more momentous occasion — let’s, for the sake of argument, choose a game-tying home run, followed immediately by a go-ahead bomb. And while we’re at it, we should use some less heralded players, like, perhaps, a platoon player who’s been stuck on the bench lately and a AAA depth piece who got called up a few hours prior.
Yes, the game was tied in the eighth when Donovan Solano doubled and then, with two outs, Austin Slater pinch-hit for Alex Dickerson and absolutely annihilated a baseball. Annihilated it.
It went 460 feet. That is so many feet.
One batter later, Jason Vosler — who was recalled from AAA to replace Brandon Belt (who was injured the day before), and entered the game to replace Darin Ruf (who was injured the hour before) — drilled one down the line for his third career hit and first career home run.
A go-ahead, late-inning homer for his first? The dude’s got a sense of the moment.
The Giants led 5-4, so it was time to shift to torture. And torture they did.
Tyler Rogers was tasked with earning the save after Jake McGee — who caught Vosler’s homer — had a clean eighth. And as Rogers took the mound, the skies parted and Robb Nen, Sergio Romo, Brian Wilson, and so many others smiled down on him.
The Diamondbacks started things with an infield single, then added a good old fashioned outfield single before recording their first out. A third single loaded the bases, with a nice play by Mike Tauchman keeping Arizona from having any thoughts of shenanigans.
The bases were loaded, with the tying run at third and the walk-off run at second, with only one out. Rogers earned a slow dribbler in front of home plate by Ketel Marte, which Posey jumped on like my cats jump on my toes when I’m not paying enough attention to them.
But it was ruled a foul ball, for reasons that Posey rather firmly disagreed with, and Rogers would have to retire Marte a second time. And retire him he did, with a high and tight riseball that would have sent me screaming and running in the opposite direction, but that Marte instead tried to swing at. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
One more to go, and Rogers almost tried too hard. He forced weak contact off of the bat of Eduardo Escobar, and it required a sensational play by Brandon Crawford to turn the 27th out.
And that’s why you employ Brandon Crawford.