With the Giants and Padres tied in the eighth inning Friday night, San Francisco rookie Christian Arroyo stepped to the plate for just his 20th major league at-bat.
Flashing a mighty swing on a 1-0 Ryan Buchter fastball, the 21-year-old provided San Francisco with its biggest clutch moment, launching a solo home run into the left-field stands to give the Giants a 4-3 lead over San Diego and deliver the win.
“Obviously in that point in the game it’s huge, but for me i wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I was just trying to get the head out and see a pitch over the plate and try to barrel something, I was just try to get on base.”
Coming into Friday, San Francisco had been held scoreless in the first inning in 21 of 23 games. This would not be another.
Joe Panik started things off with a lead-off single in the first. Brandon Belt followed with a single which eventually offered Arroyo a scoring opportunity. Arroyo crushed a Luis Perdomo (ND, 0-0, 4.96 ERA) pitch up the middle, causing San Diego Erick Aybar to bobble and commit an error, allowing Panik to score for an early 1-0 Giants lead.
The Giants scoring didn’t stop there. Conor Gillaspie saw a pitch he could put in play and drove a line drive into center field to plate Belt.
The boys in black and orange jumped all over Perdomo early. The Giants were able to load the bases in the second off a pair of singles — again by Panik and Belt — and Pence being drilled by a pitch, but ended up leaving the bases full when Perdomo struck out Michael Morse.
Giants starter Jeff Samardzija (ND, 0-4, 6.32 ERA) was cruising, jamming hitter after hitter into harmless fly outs. He even displayed a few athletic plays on the mound to remind you he once was a tight end for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Samardzija picked off right fielder Jabari Blash to close the third, firing up the crowd, and his athletic catch in the fourth robbed Aybar of an infield hit.
But Samardzija ran into trouble in the fifth when he drilled second baseman Yangervis Solarte. A two-run home run followed by Ryan Schimpf to tie the game at 2-2. Part-time left fielder Brandon Belt misplayed Cory Spangenberg ball that allowed him to reach third and eventually score on a RBI single from catcher Austin Hedges to give the Padres a 3-2 lead.
The San Diego lead didn’t last long. Belt doubled to start the bottom of the fifth and advanced to third on a wild pitch. The Giants tied it up at 3-3 after a Morse sac fly. Bochy felt that was a big moment in the game:
“Big RBI. We had a break there with the wild pitch to put us in a good situation. We were down a run and they have a good bullpen so I thought it was critical to get that run in. He did a job of it. He’s going to give you good swings up there. That is who Mo is.”
Samardzija kept his cool going into the sixth, getting a 1-2-3 inning to end his night. At 88 pitches, Samardzija left giving his team a chance to win, and told SFBay after the game:
“I felt good, the pitches were doing what I wanted to. It was just a bad pitch selection there on my part with Schimpf when he hit that homer. If the ball is up he probably doesn’t handle it so well we threw the sinker and he put a bat on it.”
The game was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth when rookie Christian Arroyo stepped into the box for his crowd-pleasing solo shot, the second of his young and promising career.
Panik told SFBay about that catch:
“Fortunately I was playing on the grass a couple of steps, everything kind of just worked out. Once he hit it I knew it was going to be in that no mans land so I just put my head down and went after it.”