Posey crushes game-winner in 17th inning

This one took 17 innings. Buster Posey was in the squat for all 269 Giants pitches.

The Giants burned through all seven of their relievers as Orange Friday turned into a never-before-seen Orange Saturday.

Posey had enough:

“It just gets to the point where you play this many innings, your body just hurts.”

At 12:44 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, Buster Posey knocked the first pitch he saw from Robert Stephenson (L, 0-2, 7.36 ERA) into the left field bleachers, giving the Giants a 3-2 win Friday night … err, Saturday morning.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at AT&T Park.

Posey took an exasperated breath as he watched the ball soar to left field. He hurled his helmet as he crossed home; the Giants got their first win against the Reds this season. A win, really, that took two games to play.

The second game seemed to be happening in a twilight zone, the ravenous seagulls looming and eventually growing tired of waiting for something to happen–much like 40,000 of the fans.

Before Posey’s 17th inning knock, the Giants (13-24) managed two base runners after the ninth inning. And the Reds (19-16) didn’t fare much better until the 14th — down an umpire — when they finally strung together a pair of hits and a sacrifice bunt to put runners in scoring position.

Brandon Crawford wasn’t giving up, though, and came up clutch on defense. Jose Peraza hit a ground ball to a shallow Crawford, who flung it home to get Scott Schebler out at home. He caught Scooter Gennett straying from second, and Bryan Morris found him for the inning-ending pickoff. Morris, sixth of the seven Giants’ relievers to take the mound, could sense the clutch out:

“That pick off went well, huh? … One of those things where he wasn’t in as good as he could have been. In those situations you want to get an out any way you can.”

Morris and the bullpen were heroic. Derek LawSteven OkertHunter StricklandJosh OsichGeorge Kontos and Cory Gearrin held the Reds scoreless through the back-nine innings.

Gearrin (W, 1-1, 1.23 ERA) stood as the last bridge between emergency pitcher situation. Bruce Bochy said after the game Matt Cain would be the go-to guy should things get weirder. Gearrin dealt two innings of shutout ball, allowing three hits. Those seven scoreless innings before him, post-ninth, weighed heavy on his every pitch, Gearrin said:

“[The bullpen] were putting up zeroes. You don’t want to be the one guy who gives up the one.”

And he didn’t. The Reds loaded the bases on him in the 17th, but Gearrin struck out Billy Hamilton to end the threat.

Cincinnati didn’t fare much better against Friday’s starter Johnny Cueto, who laughed when he tried to recall what had happened in the first nine innings of the game.

Here’s a refresher:

Short a bullpen arm, anyway, a long outing for Cueto was surly on deck. Cueto delivered an eight-inning, 119-pitch outing and gave up two runs on five hits with six strikeouts.

Those two runs came in a rough second inning. Gennett cranked a two-strike cutter into triples alley to send Scott Schebler home, tying the game at 1-1 Tucker Barnhart sent a sac fly to give them the 2-1 lead.

But, for a second night in a row, a starter’s gutty performance wouldn’t be rewarded with a win.

Belt was about two inches from giving that first-game’s hope second life, though, when he drilled a ball into triples alley with two outs in the eighth. Hamilton tracked it down as Belt chugged for third, and gunned him down.

An unfriendly face in Scott Feldman took the mound for the Reds, fresh off his four-hit complete game shutout against them just last week.

Span provided the counterpunches he couldn’t get in then, and quick, battling Feldman in the first at bat and striking a 2-2 sinker deep over Levi’s Landing to give the Giants a 1-0 lead and their first leadoff home run of the season.

In just two games back atop the lineup — where seven Giants have sat so far this season — Span has gone 7-for-11, giving the Giants two of their three runs.

Things felt a little more stable, at times spectacular with this defense rubbing out Reds’ rallies and dodging mounds behind Cueto and the Seven Relievers.

Joe Panik ping-ponged at his post. He robbed Hamilton a chance at an extra-base RBI with a leaping grab in the shallow infield, helping Cueto escape a leadoff double situation to keep the Reds’ lead at 2-1 before the Giants’ game-tying three-bunt rally.

He followed that up with a diving stop off Gennett‘s drive for a 4-6-3 double play to smother the Reds in the seventh, helping Cueto to a much-needed nine-pitch inning. He’d need the defense to help with some crucial short innings.

Oh, and Eduardo Nunez conquered the left field bullpen mound when he leapt over it to make an out. He’s new in left field, but he made it his own with that one. Said Gearrin:

“A lot of guys put a lot of time and energy into that win.”

And Morris:

“Getting a win is always significant, especially the way we’re playing right now.”

Up Next

Matt Moore will face Lisalverto Bonilla in game 3 of this series.

Notes

Home plate ump Tony Randazzo took a pitch straight to the mask from Johnny Cueto. He departed the game after the 13th, understandably, which caused that weird delay…This game was one inning short of the longest ever at AT&T Park, which occurred against the Diamondbacks back in 2001.


Shayna Rubin is SFBay’s San Francisco Giants beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @ShaynaRubin on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Giants baseball.