No matter how you felt about the San Francisco Giants heading into Wednesday night’s game, all fans were worried at some level about how the team has been playing.
Enter Michael Morse. A Giant hero in 2014, Morse returned to the Giants after rehabbing a Spring Training injury in the minor leagues in a big way.
Morse’s pinch hit home run last night was reminiscent of the home run he hit off of Pat Neshek in Game 5 of the 2014 National League Championship series.
Both were in the eighth inning.
Both were off of tough right-handed setup men.
Both tied the game 3-3.
And both saw Michael Morse running with his arms wide and floating around the bases with a joy that every Giants fan felt. It was an exuberance that had been missing in the Giants locker room.
It not only had been missing all season, but it may have been missing since 2015.
Morse only played one season with the Giants, but his bat — and more importantly his energy — made him an instant fan favorite. He got off to a tremendous start in 2014, hitting 14 of his 16 home runs before the All-Star break. His 14 home runs led the team and set the tone for the season.
Then came the postseason. Morse was battling injuries and ended up being used mostly as a designated hitter as well as a pinch hitter. Those at-bats became some of the most memorable October moments in team history.
In the eighth inning of a 3-2 game, Morse stepped to the plate to face arguably the toughest right-handed relief pitcher in baseball in Neshek. His funky delivery and deceptive stuff was nasty all season for opposing hitters.
Then, this happened.
The place erupted — it was spectacular. And the best part may have been the reaction from Morse. His excitement could be felt by each and every fan in the stands. It could be felt by every Giants fan watching at home or at a restaurant. And it could be felt by every fan listening on the radio.
And it happened again Wednesday night.
"“It was one of those special moments that can change a season,” Hunter Pence said after the game. Whether that ends up being true or not is irrelevant compared to what Morse being back has done for the locker room. As Pence also said after the game, this was just “Morsey being Morsey.”"
Pence ended the game in extra innings after a 10 pitch battle with the bases loaded where several pitches were at or above his shoulders. Maybe his bat was just a little quicker to get to those pitches. Maybe the energy in the dugout and in the park allowed him to stay alive long enough to drive one deep enough to win the game.
It is only April and the Giants came into the game with a record of 7-14. Even now, after a comeback win in extra innings, the team has a winning percentage of .364.
And yet, it feels like things are changing. There is an energy in the park that wasn’t there before.
San Francisco Giants
Some of the excitement has to do with the fact that the Los Angeles Dodgers are in town. Some of it has to do with the fact that each game has been decided by a single run so far. And some of it has to do with the fact that Christian Arroyo was called up. Arroyo certainly has created some buzz around the park and with fans.
But all of that pales in comparison to the raw emotion felt in the park when Michael Morse got ahold of one. He ran around the bases with the same joy and enthusiasm as he did that night in October against the St. Louis Cardinals.
It’s the same joy and enthusiasm that fans felt right away from Morse the day he first arrived in San Francisco. And it is the same joy and enthusiasm fans felt yesterday when they heard the Giants were calling him up.
At this stage of his career, Morse may only be a pinch hitter, possible designated hitter and occasional spot starter. But, the stage has now been set for more memorable moments at AT&T Park in 2017.