San Francisco Giants: Weird Day Ends with a Walk-Off Win

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 05: Jarrett Parker
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 05: Jarrett Parker /

Saturday was a day of highs and lows for the San Francisco Giants, but the weird day ended in a great way with a walk-off win.

Less than three years after catching the final out of the 2014 World Series, Pablo Sandoval was back with the San Francisco Giants on Saturday. His return, which comes after two and a half lackluster seasons with the Boston Red Sox, came sooner than expected. He was supposed to get a sizable amount of at-bats in Triple-A before getting the call back to the team where he experienced so much success, but, as is par for the course this season, injuries changed those plans.

Sandoval returned to the big leagues because first baseman Brandon Belt was placed on the seven-day disabled list, suffering symptoms of a concussion after being hit in the helmet on Friday night. The concussion, Belt’s fourth since his college days at Texas, expedited Sandoval’s arrival, and the team wasted no time throwing him into mix. He was playing third base and hitting cleanup, while Buster Posey received a day off.

Sandoval’s first two at-bats, though more patient than fans became accustomed to in his first stint, ended with groundballs to second base. His third at-bat, though, had a more familiar ending. In the seventh inning, Sandoval got a rally started by lacing a double through the left-center field gap as the team attempted to come back from a deficit.

Before that, the Giants needed some nifty pitching to have a chance for any sort of rally. Chris Stratton was also activated before Saturday’s game, and was tasked with taking the mound for his second career start in Matt Cain‘s rotation spot. He immediately found himself in trouble, with a bloop double, a four-pitch walk, and a barely-grazing hit by pitch loading the bases with no outs for Paul Goldschmidt.

Stratton did well to limit the damage, holding NL MVP candidate Goldschmidt to a sac fly and getting some defensive help to cut down another run at the plate on J.D. Martinez‘s RBI double. After getting out of the first inning with just the two runs allowed, Stratton would hold Arizona to one unearned run in his next four innings of work.

Another roster move earlier in the day saw reliever George Kontos get claimed on waivers by the Pittsburgh Pirates, which opened the door for young righty Kyle Crick to get bigger spots. Crick was next up after Stratton, and though he allowed an unearned run and three hits in his two innings of work, he showed the great strikeout stuff that propelled him to the big league bullpen this season.

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With runners on second and third with one out and a run already scored in the sixth inning, Crick struck A.J. Pollock out by getting him to chase an 82-mph slider out of the zone. He would then get Jake Lamb, noted Giant Killer, to pop out harmlessly to end the threat. In the seventh inning, he blew a 97-mph fastball right through Goldschmidt’s bat for his second strikeout.

After Crick’s evening finished, it was back to the offense. When Sandoval stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the seventh, the Giants had mustered just three hits in what looked like it would another disheartening offensive performance. Instead, Sandoval got the party started with his double, his first hit as a Giant since October 29th, 2014.

Another recently recalled Giant, Jarrett Parker, followed that up with a double of his own to score Sandoval and break the shutout. For Parker, it was his third hit and fourth RBI since returning from the 60-day disabled list on Thursday after recovering from his broken clavicle.

Hunter Pence followed up with another extra-base hit, this one a bit bigger than those that preceded. Pence lofted Taijuan Walker‘s slow, hanging curveball up and over the left field fence, his ninth home run of the season and first at AT&T Park this year, to make it a 4-3 ballgame.

The momentum carried over into the eighth when Kelby Tomlinson, pinch-hitter extraordinaire, came off the bench and laced a leadoff single to right field. Two batters later, he was crossing the plate with the game-tying run.

Sam Dyson worked through another bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning, keeping the game tied, and Hunter Strickland kept it that way as well by working around a leadoff walk in the 10th inning.

Denard Span got another rally going in the bottom half, scorching a leadoff double over Martinez’s head in right field. Though Sandoval was already out of the game, the other Giant that got the scoring started in the seventh ended the ballgame.

With Arizona employing a unique shift that put second baseman Adam Rosales in shallow right field, Parker sent a roller up the middle. If Rosales was in his normal position, it would have been an easy out. Instead, he had to range far to his left and could only make a feeble attempt to beat Parker at first base. Span scored from third, giving Parker his first big league walk-off and giving the Giants their 11th extra-inning win in 17 attempts.

Parker’s second stint on the big club this season has been short, but it has already been fruitful. He had just three hits and two RBI in nine games before hitting the disabled list, but since returning, he has collected five hits in nine at-bats, and driven in five runs.

It was an unusual day for the Giants, losing one long-tenured player to waivers and another to the disabled list. In their place, a pair of young pitchers held their ground to keep the team in it, and an old pal back for a second act was a key part of a late rally. Another outfielder, back from the disabled list and looking to make an impact, kept swinging a hot stick.

Next: Roster Moves Clear Path for Jones

Days like this for the team have been few and far between, but they still come from time to time. There is always some weirdness involved when they do come, and this one was just about as weird as it gets.