Nick Hundley smashes 10th-inning game-winner

Nick Hundley powered an opposite field walk off home run in the 10th inning to send the Giants’ to a comeback 2-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on a scorching Saturday afternoon.

The backup catcher rounded the bases and looked back at his teammates with a grin, arm raised, as they rushed over for the dog pile.

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

Hundley’s been the ultimate teammate, Giants and their skipper have said throughout the season, locked in and energetic in any situation on any day.

It didn’t surprise his teammates in the slightest that Hundley would finish the game off with flair, said Jeff Samardzija:

“He’s one of the best teammates I’ve ever had…(He has) those intangibles that come with this game that teammates feed off of.”

Jonny Cueto and Gorkys Hernandez returned the favor, pouring two buckets of ice-cold Gatorade over him as he breathlessly celebrated the team’s first win in four games. The fans and his teammates could finally walk away from the heat-ravaged hell-scape of AT&T Park, but the heat, said Hundley, may have helped end it for him:

“Yeah good thing it was a warm day, on a cold day who knows.”

Hundley’s homer, it turned out, was the only head-lifting spectacle this game would see. Balls flying off the bats in Friday night’s scoring extravaganza stayed within the park’s confines Saturday. The elements were against the pitchers yet again, but the pitchers won this round, said Bruce Bochy:

“You have two pitchers on top of their game as good as we’ve seen them all year.”

Jeff Samardzija got the nod in place of Chris Stratton so Madison Bumgarner could sneak an overdue start in Sunday.

He killed. Nine Cardinals whiffed, mostly on his fastball, scoring only on Dexter Fowler’s RBI single–one of two hits Samardzija would allow. Samardzija extended his dominant streak to 16 innings of one-run ball and Hundley marveled:

“He might have been better than he was in his shutout in San Diego.”

Lance Lynn held a one hitter through eight innings on 101 pitches, treading on his one-run lead. There was no answer for Lynn, said Bochy:

“Their guy Lynn was great…hard to barrel up on the ball because of the movement.”

But the heat, the pitch count, forced manager Mike Matheny to make a tough call. The Cards’ bullpen just had to protect a one-run lead against the coldest offense in the game. Hundley understood:

“He was throwing the ball great, but they have a great bullpen.”

Hunter Pence took a moment from his day off to up the day’s hit total to four. He singled off reliever Tyler Lyons, and scored on Buster Posey‘s desperate, game-tying bloop single. Pablo Sandoval struck out looking to send the game into extras all while extending his hitless streak to 26 at bats.

Sam Dyson survived a leadoff triple from Dexter Fowler in the top of the 10th, forcing two ground outs to Sandoval, who snagged Fowler out at home on the second. The tie game fueled a heat-drained Hundley:

“Got an opportunity to hit in the 10th. Doesn’t get better than that.”

Up next

The Giants will try to even the series with Bumgarner on the mound against Luke Weaver before the team departs on a road trip to Colorado.

Notes

Jarrett Parker has a strained oblique and will miss the Colorado series, Bochy said after the game. He could be back for the White Sox series.


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.