Joe Panik’s walk won the San Francisco Giants the NLDS


The San Francisco Giants defied all odds, and conquered the ‘best team’ in the National League, the Washington Nationals in the Division Series. The series was close, tense, and was evenly battled out between the two franchises. With both team’s pitchers in stellar form, the offenses were quiet. Every game, there were a few crucial ABs. In the series itself, there was one incredibly important, essentially series winning, AB. Guess who had the most important AB? Rookie second baseman, Joe Panik. Of course.

Every series, there will be plays, hits, outs which ultimately decide the outcome of the series in its entirety. For this Division Series, the Giants’ victory is largely down to one, huge at bat. In game two, when the Giants had already earned a one-to-nothing series lead, they were ever so close to watching Tim Hudson‘s gem go to waste. They were ever so close to allowing the Nationals to come back, and tie the series. To allow the Nationals to get right back into it, with momentum, too.

Jordan Zimmerman was utterly preeminent, dominant, unhittable. Unhittable isn’t used lightly, either. Zimmermann retired the last twenty batters he faced, which led him into the ninth inning, simply one out away from masterminding a National’s win. Then, rookie, Joe Panik came to the plate, with the game on the line, and what he did was truly extraordinary.

Unaffected by the fact he could in fact he could tie the game up with one, single, swing of the bat Panik continued the same approach that has made him a hero in San Francisco. With his acute eye for a ball and a strike, Panik somehow managed to earn a walk against the incredible Zimmermann. He took several tough pitches, and didn’t try to play hero in the hitters count. No, the second baseman took the walk, and scored the game tying run.

Thankfully for the Giants, Matt Williams made a right mess of his pitching decision — a common theme throughout the series — and despite having been untouchable for the vast majority of the night, took out Zimmermann. In essence, not only did Panik start the eventual game-tying rally, which set them up to win the longest game of postseason history, he was also able to get Jordan out of the game. A huge, huge walk from Joe. A walk which won the Giants the National League Division Series.

From day one, when he was called in to pinch-hit for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Panik has displayed a mentality, a patience and a plate discipline like no other. His eye knows whether a pitch is ball, or a strike. He fouls off tough, tough pitches to stay alive. When he works ahead in the count, he doesn’t try to do too much. Rather, he is selective, takes his pitch, and puts it in play. When he is behind, he battles hard. He tires the pitcher, and makes him earn his out — if he can even get the infielder, Joe, out.

In his first two postseason games, Panik broke a San Francisco Giants’ record. In recording five hits, it was the most hits through anyones first ever two postseason games in franchise history. His season, and postseason have been so good, that he is gathering plenty of fanfare for Rookie of the Year. So what if the vast majority of the fanfare stems from the Bay Area. Giants fans know a good player when they see one. The Giants fans know Joe is an incredible young ball-player.

Like every fairytale, the Panik story must have a magical ending. Of course it does. The series, in which he was instrumental in winning for the Giants, was won on a wild pitch in the seventh inning last night. With the bases loaded, reliever Aaron Barrett spiked a fastball into the dirt, and it rolled to the back-stop. Number twelve, Joe Panik raced home and scored the game winning run. The run which sends the Giants to the Championship series.