The San Francisco Giants could not beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in more dramatic fashion than the Dodgers beat the Giants in on Tuesday. Not because of anything pertaining to the two teams, but because of rules. You can’t walk-off the home team, so the Giants couldn’t match the Dodgers made for TV finish on Tuesday, when Will Smith turned a deficit into a victory with one swing of the bat.
But they certainly did the next best thing.
A day after blowing a ninth inning lead, the Giants entered the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium trailing 2-1. Mike Yastrzemski had homered in the first inning, but since then the Giants had mustered a mere two hits — both of them infield singles. It wasn’t exactly a game where the Giants knocked on the door, and knocked on the door, and knocked on the door, and you hoped that maybe it was a poorly made door that would eventually break under the duress of a knock, which doors are definitely not supposed to do.
Instead, the Giants slept in until 10 minutes before work started, grabbed the first pair of clothes they saw (which just happened to be clean), ate while they drove, and made it to work on time.
It started, as so many great stories do, with Buster Posey. Posey had the day off but pinch-hit to lead off the inning. It was a rare non-platoon pinch-hitting situation for the Giants, as Posey replaced Austin Slater. And it worked, as Posey lined the second pitch Kenley Jansen threw into right field for a leadoff single.
And that brought up Wilmer Flores. Sweet, kind, beautiful Wilmer Flores. I don’t talk enough about Flores, who kind of just hangs out, plays a few different positions, does his job quietly, and then shows up with a huge hit when the team needs it.
The team needed it.
Flores launched one. He absolutely launched one. It turned a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead, and it was perfect.
Make sure you watch it with sound. Not for what you’ll hear, but for what you won’t hear: cheering Dodger fans. Hang that silence in the Louvre, damn it. There were actually so many Giants fans at Dodger Stadium that it kind of sounded like the home team dingered.
And now without Jon Miller’s excellent call. Try and separate the cheers of the Giants fans from the silence of the Dodgers fans. It’s quite lovely.
This makes me happy.
The Giants would add on. Darin Ruf doubled, and Donovan Solano and Thairo Estrada drew walks to load the bases and get Jansen out of the game. Curt Casali then drew a two-out walk, admittedly on a pitch in the strike zone.
Do I care? Not even a little bit. Especially since Casali showed off his 2007 Connecticut Dance Dance Revolution State Championship moves to avoid a pitch aimed at every part of his lower body just a moment earlier.
And then naturally, because baseball is life, and life is poetry, Tyler Rogers came out to pitch the ninth inning in a 4-2 game. Rogers, who walked two batters and gave up the walk-off home run in just 11 pitches on Tuesday.
Rogers who apparently had a fool-proof beer-drinking plan, bless his soul.
Tyler Rogers: "I'm going to have a Bud Light and rinse this one off and be back out there tomorrow."— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 21, 2021
Rogers faced Will Smith, the walk-off dinger-masher to lead off the inning, because of course. Routine fly ball. Then Cody Bellinger grounded out, and AJ Pollack did the same, and the game was over. And Rogers got to enjoy a much more delicious beer: the Bud Light of victory.
Tyler Rogers: "Absolutely, I'm going to have a celebratory Bud Light."— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 22, 2021
Might do the same, Tyler. Might just do the same.
The ninth inning — both the top and the bottom — was the story of the game. You could have fast-forwarded and started there and it would’ve been fine.
But as long as I have you here, let’s touch on three other things.
First, we should watch the aforementioned Yaz homer. It was lovely.
Second, a day after their meltdown, the bullpen was spectacular. Jay Jackson, Zack Littell, José Álvarez, and Rogers combined for four perfect innings, with 39 of their 55 pitches going for strikes.
And third, Logan Webb was strong, allowing 3 hits, 3 walks, and 2 earned runs in 5 innings, with 5 strikeouts.
But I’ll remember him more for his post-game quotes, which seem to tell the story of where the Giants are as they near the end of July.
Logan Webb on his postgame Zoom: "The bullpen, that was fucking fun to watch. They must have had their ... what are they called?"— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 22, 2021
Phalanges, Logan. Phalanges.
Webb said "there was no doubt in my mind" the Giants would come back and win tonight.— Susan Slusser (@susanslusser) July 22, 2021
This team just might be special.