May 6, 2015; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Matt Duffy (50) makes a play to end the top of the sixth inning against the San Diego Padres at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports
Not even a game-changing grand slam from Casey McGehee earlier in the series could alter the inevitable.
Stepping up to the plate with two down and the bases loaded, Matt Duffy had readied himself for the pressure: “I did the math, and if my turn did come up, it’d be bases loaded, two outs and a tie game.”
Duffy delivered a walk-off base hit that sealed the win and a four-game split with the visiting Marlins, one-upping his fellow third basemen’s theatrics from Friday. The poise and heady approach that the 24-year-old displays has earned him a shot a being the every-day starter.
That mentality and grittiness that The Duffman provides is just what this team needs with so many players out. I don’t believe I’m in the minority, either, when I say that giving McGehee an extended break might do him some good. Letting Duffy take the reins could take some pressure off a player who is only one year removed from having a 170-hit season.
Despite the grand slam on Friday, McGehee’s average (.179 through Sunday) continues to suffer, and his continual hits into double-plays are getting old, fast. He’s gripping in epic fashion, and taking a step back is probably what he needs to take a step forward.
Nevertheless, it’s going to take the kind of heart that the whole team has shown in the last few weeks to keep the momentum going. As Ryan Vogelsong relayed to Andrew Baggarly: “It’s going to take all of us to get where we want to go.”
Where they want to go is back to the postseason—perhaps even a back-to-back trip to the big show. And though Duffy has done more than enough to supplant McGehee at the hot corner, the G-Men know that it will take the entire team to be playing October baseball.
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It’s a bit early to be thinking about the Fall, but having the depth that the Giants have on the mound and in the field is huge.
The emergence of Chris Heston has been a Godsend, and I believe Yusmeiro Petit could be in the rotation for a slew of MLB teams. Vogelsong is once again showing why he deserves to be a starter, and Tim Lincecum (sans the mid-90’s fastball) is looking freakish again.
Justin Maxwell’s flashing a solid glove in right field and provides a decent bat at the dish and speed on the basepaths. Combine his efforts with the tremendous starts from Angel Pagan and Nori Aoki (who’s cooled off of late) and the absence of Hunter Pence isn’t unbearable to a club trying to keep pace in the first leg of a 162-game race.
And Hunter is so close. Speaking to the media during his stint with the Triple-A Rivercats, Pence sounded optimistic and ready to get back at it in San Francisco. Hopefully Matt Cain and Jake Peavy won’t be too far behind, pushing them even closer to the top in the National League.
In the meantime, the Giants will continue to hold their own in this wild, wild NL West.