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Longo has a day

Veteran Evan Longoria razzle-dazzles in Giants back-and-forth win over Colorado

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The clouds were creeping in towards Coors Field all afternoon. A foreboding front that threatened but never manifested into a storm as the Colorado Rockies put together a series of returns that didn’t diminish until the 11th: a 2-0 San Francisco lead erased in the 5th, a 6-3 lead razed by an RBI single and 2-run homer in the 8th, a 8-6 lead leveled in the 10th.

It wasn’t until Zach Littell, a base running gaffe and a great tag by Evan Longoria in the 11th that set the San Francisco Giants 9-8 lead in stone.

As the tying run (already in scoring position), Sam Hilliard tried to advance to third on a flyout to medium right field. LaMonte Wade Jr. fired off a gorgeous throw that skipped across the infield to Longoria who applied a back-handed swipe tag on Hilliard’s heel to secure the third and final out.

It probably wasn’t a career game for Longo, but it was possibly one of his best in his five seasons in San Francisco.

The veteran went 3 for 4 with a walk, scoring twice and knocking in 4 RBIs. His double in the 2nd was a foot from clearing the fence along the left field pole line (amazingly, the liner would’ve been a home run in every other ball park in the Majors) and he eventually came around to score the first of the Giants’ 9 runs.

He came through in the 7th with a cathartic grand slam off starter Kyle Freeland which put San Francisco up 6-2. The slam was Longoria’s first since 2013 and an offensive jolt this team had been desperately searching for in their decade-long losing streak.

Longoria’s glove, or lack thereof, also flourished with his bat, making one of the best defensive plays I’ve seen all season.

With the game tied in the 9th, speedster Garret Hampson slapped the first pitch he saw from Camilo Doval directly into the ground producing a high chopper that was pretty much a guaranteed infield base hit with the height of the bounce and Hampson’s speed. Longoria settled under the ball and with no time to use his glove, cocked his arm back, perfectly timed his crow-hop to prep his throw before bare-handing the ball and rocketing it to first in one fluid motion to get the first out of the inning.

Starter Jakob Junis allowed 3 runs over 6 ⅔ innings before he was removed from the game after taking a line drive off of his glove-hand thumb.

He logged 6 Ks without giving up any walks on 5 hits, cruising into the 5th by peppering the bottom of the zone with a unusually heavy offering of sinkers.

The 2-run homer he gave up to catcher Brian Severn in the 5th was a Coors Field special: a routine flyball, 93 MPH off the bat that knuckled through the thin, mile-high air and found itself in the left field bleachers.

Kapler used 7 relievers over 4 ⅓ innings. John Brebbia threw 2 pitches to finish up the 7th for Junis after he was removed. Doval and Littell threw relatively painless innings helped by the defense. Tyler Rogers recorded two outs in the 8th but gave up a double to Ryan McMahon and was lifted for Jarlín García to face lefty Charlie Blackmon. García, who had strung together some decent innings in recent outings, lost his groove, giving up an RBI single to Blackmon before surrendering a game-tying homer to Randall Grichuk.

RBIs from Thairo Estrada and Austin Wynns broke the 6-6 tie in the 10th. As the television broadcast headed to a commercial break, Dave Fleming, somewhat knowingly, posited the age-old Coors Field question: “Will it be enough?”

It wasn’t. But we all kind of knew that already.

The Rockies tied it up with two singles off Alex Young and loaded the bases against a shaky Dominic Leone before Sam Hilliard popped out to third to end the threat.

Time has passed but not much has changed. The Phillies lost. Milwaukee and San Diego won. All the teams fighting for the last couple Wild Card spots in the National League seem to be treading water and the Giants don’t seem interested in taking advantage. The win this afternoon ended San Francisco’s four game losing streak but did little in regards to brightening their postseason outlook or chasing off fan anxieties.

I texted my grandpa this morning about how I didn’t think the team’s playoff chances were looking too good. He responded (I suspect during a church service): You can’t lose hope Steven. They are only 24 games behind the Dodgers.

He’s lived 92 years on this planet and pre-dates Major League Baseball in California—the joke definitely lands. There are no expectations, but hope lingers—even if its more for a laugh than anything else.