In every good SF Giants season, it seems there’s always one point that teams turn to and say, “That’s what got us going.”
Several times this season, the SF Giants seemed to have one pivotal game that would change it all–Michael Morse‘s game-tying, eighth-inning, pinch-hit home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers in his first at-bat back, beating Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium, rookie sensation Christian Arroyo‘s game-winning, eighth-inning homer against the Padres. But none of those game snapped the Giants out of their funk.
Well, the Giants might have had that turning point during Friday night’s marathon 17-inning, walk-off win. Franchise player Buster Posey ended that game with a booming, game-ending home run that landed halfway up the left-field bleachers.
Since then, the Giants won their next three games, scoring 19 runs. They’ve hit four home runs in that span and are finally playing Giants-style baseball–good pitching, great defense, and just enough offense.
In fact, the old Giants motto was score four runs at home, and that’s good enough to win. Well, at least for the three games after the 17th-inning walk-off, they have done just that. And it’s been good enough to win, even though the Dodgers scored three runs in the ninth on Monday and lost 8-4 (those runs came off middle relievers who would not have been in there in a save situation).
Even with the current four-game winning streak, the Giants are 16-24 and 8.5 games behind the Colorado Rockies in the National League West. There’s still a long way to go, but the Giants finally have won at least three-in-a-row for the first time all year–and it’s mid-May.
That’s hardly the start the Giants hoped for.
But now, there’s hope.
“You’ve got to believe the worm was going to turn, and at this point it has,” Manager Bruce Bochy told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
In fact, Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford pointed to Friday night’s game as the potential turning point of the season.
"”That was it for me [the 17-inning game],” Crawford told Schulman. “I actually played in that one, so I’m a little biased.”"
But a long extra-inning game could work the other way too.
On Jul. 26, 2011, the Pirates and Atlanta Braves played in a marathon 19-inning game at Turner Field. The Pirates ended up losing with the help of a blown call in the bottom of the 19th.
At the time, the Pirates were 53-47 and tied for first in the National League Central. After that game, the Pirates went 19-42 for the rest of the year and fell out of the race.
Before Friday, the Giants showed signs of life Wednesday in New York. Down 3-2 in the ninth against Mets’ closer Jeurys Familia, the Giants scored four runs, capped by an Arroyo three-run, bases-loaded double. San Francisco held on to win that game 6-5, the first time in two years they came back to win a game trailing after eight innings.
Then, the Giants played the Cincinnati Reds, who swept them in Cincinnati in dominant fashion–outscoring the orange and black 31-5. And just like the other three times, the Reds beat them 3-2 Thursday at AT&T Park.
Even though the Giants didn’t build on Wednesday’s momentum, the Giants showed signs of life, leaving the tying run at third base in the ninth. Brandon Belt, who had two home runs in the series, flew out to end the game.
And if it hadn’t been for an atom ball ticketed toward the right-field line off the bat of Posey the at-bat before, the Giants might have come back and won that game.
And it took a marathon of a game to finally put the Giants over the top–for now.
There’s still a long way to go to get back to .500.
The Giants were dead last in the National League in runs scored until their mini-offensive outburst the last couple of games. Now, they’re second-to-last just ahead of the Pirates with 139.
But hey–baby steps.