Greek Giant

The Giants returned home for the first time since Willie Mays was lost to the world and they got him a “W” in the form of a thrilling 5-4 victory over the Cubs. It wasn’t easy and it took a walk with the bases loaded to Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the ninth to pull off the comeback win that saw the Giants trail 4-0 at one point in this game. Indeed it was a super emotional and super intense ball game. To begin with the Giants the the fans honored Willie Mays with a beautiful pre-game ceremony that included Barry Bonds and other dignitaries. Each Giant player wore the number 24 to add to the moment. It just had to be a win for the Giants. Willie would have nothing less.

Let’s begin with the recap by saying that on games when Hicks, Webb or Harrison are not pitching the relief corps is in action to make it look like a normal day at Scottsdale for the Cactus League. In other words it sucks but it is the reality the Giants front office chooses after the injuries and general crappiness of Blake Snell and Keaton Winn. Last night Erik Miller started and pitched a shutout top of the first. It was a scoreless game until the Cubs plated one run in the top of the fourth inning off Raymond Burgos who was making his Major League debut. It was actually a good escape job for the rookie because he had the bases loaded with nobody out thanks to some soft singles and a walk that we can attribute to Giant butterflies. But the kid did a great job to pitch out of trouble and limit the damage to one run. In the top of the fourth inning the Cubs added three more runs on two walks, two singles and a double, all of which came from Luke Jackson pitches. Spencer came in the inning with one out to save the day and he would end up with the well-deserved win going 4 2/3 innings overall without allowing a run. His performance was a crucial component of the come-from-behind victory.

The Giants finally got on the board with a run in the bottom half of the fifth inning after being shut down most of the night by Cubs starting pitcher Justin Steele. That run came off a hanging slider up and down the middle that ended up deep into the left field seats thanks to a Matt Chapman powerful swing. That homer work up the Giants and the crowd as home runs often do. It made the game 4-1 till Nick Ahmed, in the bottom of the sixth inning, skied a hoper to left field to make it 4-2. That was his first round-tripper as a Giant and it came at a great time.

The 4-2 score set the stage for the Giants dramatic three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning that started like this:

  • Matt Chapman hustles a double on a jam shot just out of reach of the Cubs center fielder
  • Thairo Estrada reaches first on a perfectly executed bunt down the third base line

That’s a bloop and a bunt that got the rally started. It was quite a gamble and quite a play for Thairo Estrada to bunt and reach base but he did it and it set the stage for Conforto’s sac fly to deep center. That double by Chapman was big since he does not score if he is on first base when Thairo bunts. That made the game 4-3 for Bailey who singled up the middle and Ahmed who walked. Now we have the bases loaded with Austin Slater up. Slater hit a fly ball to deep center that scored Estrada with a sac fly to tie the game at 4 runs apiece. Then with Former Giant Drew Smyly pitching he chose to walk Heliot Ramos intentionally, a strategy that would backfire mightily as Wilmer would work the bases loaded walk to score the winning run and end this important night on a festive note for the hometown heroes.

“We all got to wear No. 24, and that’s pretty cool.  All the stuff pregame, it certainly gets your attention, and we’ve been thinking about this all week and finally win a game for him. Whether it was Rickwood or whatever, we had trouble winning games during his tributes, so it was good to be able to do it at home here.”

-Bob Melvin

The Highlights

From the Ceremony

Tonight’s Game

It will be Giant-Killer Kyle Hendricks pitching for the Cubs against a slew of relievers for the Giants tonight in the second of a four-game series at Willie Mays Field. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 PM