The San Francisco Giants played their most chaotic and ludicrous game of the season on Friday night, but the good news is that they won.
Now I’m going to skip the the first seven innings, because the eighth inning until the end of the game contained more drama and shenanigans than most weeks of baseball. The “last time, on innings one through seven” mini-recap is that Anthony DeSclafani was markedly better (but not all that good) than the last time he faced the Los Angeles Dodgers, Steven Duggar homered, and the teams were tied 2-2 when the eighth inning rolled around.
Even though they were tied, it was hard to think the Giants would win because ... well ... you watched the first four games, presumably. But they rallied, with LaMonte Wade Jr. — who reached base four times — getting hit by a pitch, and Mike Yastrzemski drawing a walk.
That brought up Buster Posey. Buster Posey who is reinvigorated and seems to have his superstar access pass renewed for a few more years.
On the surface, it appeared that Posey did the thing that you most love when he does: beat LA. He put a ball over the fence, silenced the crowd at Chavez Ravine, and gave the Giants a 5-2 lead. It was beautiful, even if my brain is still conditioned to 2018-19 Posey and was sure it was going to die on the warning track.
Who ya gonna call? pic.twitter.com/FTep20Kwkg— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 29, 2021
Sweet baby Jesus that’s the most aesthetically pleasing swing you’ll find. Let’s watch it again, from a different angle.
pov: you’re on deck with Buster at the dish in a huge spot. pic.twitter.com/hG9vVYWbiJ— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 29, 2021
Buster Posey go-ahead home runs against the Dodgers are what life is all about. If we can’t have those, then what’s it all been for?
Jake McGee came out for the eighth, and you probably felt some pessimism, because bullpen foibles will do that to you. Never mind the fact that McGee hadn’t given up a run in nearly two weeks, and had only allowed runs in one of his last eight appearance. You were nervous. I get it. I’m not here to invalidate your fears.
McGee invalidated them, though, with a rather smooth inning. The Giants would take a three-run lead into the ninth inning, where they could hand things over to their funky closer whom the Dodgers had yet to face this year.
If you’re hearing that eerie music that they joke about in the State Farm commercials, it’s because the ninth inning did not go as planned.
Let me take a brief interlude to tell a story, because what everyone wants in the middle of a gripping recap about the most thrilling game of the year is a personal anecdote that has nothing to do with baseball. When I was a preteen, my family and I took a road trip to New Mexico, to take my sister to college. We were all vegetarians at the time, and finding good vegetarian options in the American Southwest in a time before smart phones wasn’t the easiest thing in the world.
We stopped at a restaurant, got a table, briefly scanned the menu, and didn’t see anything vegetarian. So when the waitress came over my mom asked, “do you serve anything that’s vegetarian?” The waitress smiled and said, “No ma’am, we sure don’t.”
Do the Giants let their ninth innings pass smoothly through baseball’s chinoise and into a pretty bowl of victory? No ma’am, they sure don’t.
Tyler Rogers entered the game with an ERA that started with a “0,” and you can probably guess that it now starts with a “1.”
Hilariously enough, Rogers retired Max Muncy, certified Giant Killer™ to start the inning. Then Justin Turner singled, and Will Smith hit an infield single that probably should have been a double play, but Mauricio Dubón couldn’t handle it.
Just like that, the tying run was at the plate. But rather than blow it then and there, the Giants had to make it extra torturous by retiring Gavin Lux to get within one out of victory. Then Rogers had to throw two strikes to pinch-hitter Austin Barnes, to get within one strike of victory.
And then Barnes hit a game-tying home run.
Are we having fun yet?
Up came Albert Pujols, who might have been the least likely player not named “Buster Posey” to suit up for the Dodgers this year.
And with the game tied, in the bottom of the ninth inning, he launched one.
It had the look.
It had the sound.
It had the arc.
It had the reaction from Pujols, who has done this home run thing 668 times.
It had the reaction from the bench, and the fans.
It had the reaction from Rogers.
It even had the distance.
But it also had Mike Tauchman.
Air Tauchman 29. pic.twitter.com/evQStqh4aM— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 29, 2021
Look at that. LOOK AT THAT.
It was a fully inevitable loss, and Mike Tauchman climbed the enemy’s fence to retrieve it.
You dropped a 10-dollar bill on dog poop and then stepped on it and decided to just eat your loss and move on with your day, but a stranger picked it off the ground, wiped it clean, sanitized it, returned it to you, then took off their shoes (which just happened to be Air Force 1s, properly distressed, in your size), and gave them to you.
I don’t care if Tauchman goes 0-69 and gets DFA’d. He’s a forever Giant.
But there was still a game to be won.
Given all that had transpired, the Giants were in line to either win the best game of the year, or lose the worst. Sports!
Thankfully they opted for the former. Despite Tauchman being unable to build on his magic, and having an unproductive out to start the tenth, the Giants scored their ghost runner courtesy of a Wade single.
One run doesn’t feel enough when you just blew three, especially when the other team is given a free runner, so Yastrzemski walked and Evan Longoria entered as a pinch-hitter, with two outs, and drove a whammy of a double off the wall that scored his two pals.
LaMonte and Longo took it back in the 10th. pic.twitter.com/LpsfEEK4t7— SFGiants (@SFGiants) May 29, 2021
The Giants had already gotten one three-run, final inning, blown lead out of their system; they couldn’t possibly do it a second time ... right?
Right. Jarlin García pitched a clean tenth and the game was over.
If I had told you at the start of the year that it would take the Giants until their fifth game against the Dodgers, at the end of May, to finally beat them, you would have believed me.
If I had told you that that first win would have given the teams identical records, you would not have.
But they did, and they have, and they sure made it interesting in the process.