The San Francisco Giants closed their 2022 season at Oracle Park the same way they started it: with head scratches, some unsightly sweating, feasts and famines, late inning power and late inning drama that resulted in a walk-off win in the 10th.
DAVID VILLAR WALKS IT OFF pic.twitter.com/trwOqSUfBy— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) October 2, 2022
David Villar, who hopes to be a large part of the Giants climb back into relevance next year, sent the faithful home fattened and content by softly rolling a 2-RBI single through the Arizona Diamondbacks drawn-in infield.
The tying run scored easily on the hit, and with no outs, third base coach Mark Hallberg chose to live dangerously, waving in the 2022 Willie Mac Award winner and finalist for the “I’m So Fast” Buster Posey Speed Demon Cleats award, Wilmer Flores.
It was a terrible idea. Corbin Carroll, playing in, gathered the ball easily, his one-hop throw on target—but sometimes terrible ideas make for good television (case in point: “Old Enough”). Catcher Carson Kelly couldn’t corral the baseball and Flores cleated the plate for San Francisco’s final run and win in San Francisco.
The only thing that would’ve made the moment better is if Duane Kuiper called “FLORES IS ON THE MOVE” as he rounded third.
Shake it off, Kuip. You can’t hit ‘em all out of the park.
"RUF IS ON THE MOVE!!!"— KNBR (@KNBR) August 2, 2022
Happy trails to Darin Ruf, who played an integral part in one of our favorite Duane Kuiper calls ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/XW87Ea4AUS
But before the Dubble Bubble bath and Poland Springs shower at first base, this game had a “2022 Downer” written all over it.
The D-Backs clogged the base paths all afternoon, constantly nagging Giants pitching by putting the ball in play while getting the lead runner on base but had little to show for it against the San Francisco assembly line of arms rolling out of the bullpen in center field.
The infield turned three 6-4-3 double plays in the 3rd, 4th and 6th innings to dodge Arizona scoring threats. Ranking them in order of difficulty and finesse: they ranged from bellissimo, solid, routine and *yikes* just put your head down and get off the field as quickly as possible.
Reliever Shelby Miller in the 7th was the first pitcher to retire the side in order and the first to record a strikeout: a one out K to Dalton Varsho. It proved to be the only SF K through 9 innings. The last time Giants pitchers struck out 1 opposing batter over 9 innings was on May 13th: a win against the Cardinals.
The Giants nearly broke the game open in the first against starter Zac Davies. Wilmer Flores lined a double off the cars in left. J.D. Davis walked. Joc Pederson collected his first career hit in 14 at-bats against Davies, but with Flores’s speed and the velocity of the single, he held at third.
Giants take the lead on Fan Appreciation Day pic.twitter.com/pKkrknbDd2— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) October 2, 2022
Evan Longoria brought the run in with a sacrifice fly, but with the bases loaded and a vulnerable arm, Thairo Estrada tried to take advantage of a deep infield by laying down a bunt. This probably won’t surprise you, but it didn’t work out.
Please don’t dwell on the decision because it really doesn’t hold up under much mental scrutiny…oops, too late.
Estrada is third on the team in RBIs. He hits for a high average in high leverage situations. It was the first inning on Fan Appreciation Day and the last home game of the season and the Giants had been officially eliminated from the postseason the day before. No one in the stands is jonesing for an RBI bunt when they could be treated to a bases clearing double or grand slam. Sure, the novelty of a sneak attack RBI bunt is cool, kind-of…well not really. Take a note from Hallberg and give the people want they want Thairo! Go up there and swing out of your cleats!
Though Davies threw 60 pitches over the first two innings, he lingered on the mound through 5 innings. Giants bats went dead after the 1st, their only offense coming on Davies’s terms: 4 free bags, until Austin Slater led off the 7th inning with a pinch hit homer off Caleb Smith.
Arizona tied the game at 1 run apiece after back-to-back doubles off Alex Young with two outs in the 5th. After Austin Slater knocked a pinch hit home run to left center in the 7th, the D-Backs knotted the score again in the 8th after Jake McCarthy scored from first on a Josh Rojas double.
They finished out their scoring, when McCarthy singled off Jharel Cotton to score the Manfred Runner in the 10th.
In 2022, the Giants were 43-37 in San Francisco with 359 runs scored while allowing 329. Sunday afternoon’s win was their 80th win and 8th walk off.
With three more games left to play, the Giants need one more win in San Diego to secure a .500 season and skirt notoriety by being the 7th team in MLB history to follow a 100-win season with a losing record.