Kevin Gausman played an unlikely hero at the plate with a walk-off sacrifice fly that helped the SF Giants nab a 6-5 win on Friday night. With the Cincinnati Reds securing a 3-1 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Giants gained a game in the standings. They now hold a two-game lead in the NL West with 14 games left to play.
SF Giants: Kevin Gausman sacrifice fly leads to walk-off win
It is fair to say that this game became a must-win once the score of the Dodgers-Reds game became final. For the most part, the Giants were in the driver’s seat against the Braves. That is, until the ninth inning.
Tyler Rogers got the first crack at the closer role given that Jake McGee was placed on the injured list with an oblique strain earlier in the day. This is not new territory for Rogers as he has had plenty of save opportunities in 2021.
That said, the typically-reliable Rogers had a bad outing. He entered the ninth inning with a 4-2 advantage before yielding a pair of singles to Austin Riley and Adam Duvall. He recorded one out before Travis d’Arnaud stepped to the plate and blasted a 2-1 offering over the fence, giving the Braves a 5-4 lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, the Giants came to the plate and recorded two, quick outs. Donovan Solano, who was just activated, was asked to pinch-hit. He quickly fell behind in the count but continued to battle before lacing a 2-2 offering from Will Smith over the left field wall to tie it up.
This set the stage for Kevin Gausman’s heroics in the 11th inning. It bears mentioning that the Giants bullpen deserves some credit for preventing the Braves from scoring in the 10th and 11th innings, which is not easy to do when a runner starts on second base.
The bottom of the 11th inning began with an errant pickoff throw that allowed Brandon Crawford to advance to third base. With no outs, the Giants just needed to put the ball into the air. Steven Duggar had the first opportunity to capitalize on the Braves’ mistake and he hit a fly ball to medium-deep left field but it was not enough to get Crawford to score.
By the time Gausman made his way to the plate, the bases were loaded with only one out. The Giants had run out of position players, so manager Gabe Kapler went with his best hitting pitcher in Gausman.
The left-handed hitter quickly found himself in a tough,1-2 count. He worked the count full after laying off a couple of pitchers. With the bases loaded and a 3-2 count, Gausman knew he was going to see a strike and he lifted the sixth pitch of the at-bat to right field. It went about as far as Duggar’s fly ball, but Crawford began charging home this time and he slid safely into home plate to end the game. The Giants allowed the Braves to get back into the game, but they managed to still find a way to win.
Both the Giants and the Dodgers are facing off against tough opponents in the Braves and the Reds, respectively. It is not going to be an easy weekend for either division rival but the SF Giants made the first move by squeaking by with a 6-5 win over the Braves. With 14 games remaining, the Giants’ 2-game lead becomes even more important as the margin of error shrinks with every game that passes by.