For the fifth time in eight games, the Giants found a way to win in extra innings Tuesday night, improving their 2019 record in such contests to 10-2 with a 13-inning, 5-4 victory over the Cubs (54-47) at Oracle Park.
After San Francisco (52-50) relievers blew an eighth-inning lead, it took another five innings to unravel the knot. But the scrappy Giants scratched out yet another win in gutty fashion, as fan-favorite Pablo Sandoval played the hero with a walk-off home run off Brad Brach (L, 3-3, 6.05 ERA) over the left-field wall to give rookie reliever Sam Coonrod (W, 1-0, 1.80 ERA) his first career win.
It seems San Francisco simply cannot be stopped of late, as their tear drags into its fifth week. Whether by creating the rallies or working as a lucky rabbit’s foot, the man at the center of almost all of it has been left-fielder Alex Dickerson.
Dickerson was an under-the-radar outfielder who struggled with injuries with the Padres for several years before San Francisco acquired him in early June. Since he put on a Giants uniform June 21, the team is 21-8 and he’s been worth 1.3 WAR, batting just under .400 with a 1.258 OPS.
Dickerson, who served as the heart of San Francisco’s early offense Tuesday night spearheading two rallies, said he’s only watched the kind of hot streak the Giants are on from afar before this summer:
“I’ve never gotten to see what that’s like and how that keeps building on each other and really being in the clubhouse and being a part of it and seeing how everybody’s backing each other up and really contributing on a day-in and day-out basis out on the field, it’s just been awesome.”
Sandoval, however, has seen what this looks like before, and he, like many other veterans of San Francisco’s past success, said the way the Giants have played lately reminds him of years that ended in parades:
“This reminds me of 2014 and 2010. The ride we’re having right now is unbelievable, we never give up, we fight every at-bat and every inning.”
Another veteran of post-season victories, Madison Bumgarner (ND, 5-7, 3.66 ERA) tossed seven strong innings Tuesday, allowing three runs and striking out seven. He said he wasn’t surprised his team came back to win it, in fact he said no one on the club was:
“This is the feeling I had, and I think everybody had — it wasn’t, ‘Gosh I hope we’re going to win this game,’ or whatever. I feel like everybody knew we were going to win, it was just, ‘When’s it going to happen?’ And we did.”
Dickerson, known as Dick to his teammates and the fans, faced Yu Darvish (ND, 3-4, 4.54 ERA) to lead off the second and hit a bullet to the deepest part of the yard out in right center for a standup double to get the ball rolling, and was plated on a ground out and a sac fly.
It was a gutsy send home from third on the sac fly from Mike Yastrzemski, but Dickerson executed an immaculate slide hooking his toe onto the plate just in time. Of the play he said:
“It seemed like a good chance to take one right there, Kyle [Schwarber]‘s got a pretty good arm and is generally pretty accurate but we were going to take a chance. I saw the throw going to the right and I was just gonna do my best to slide and get the left side of the plate and it ended up working out.”
With one out in the fourth, he led an even stronger rally when he swatted a one-out dinger (6) to left. Brandon Crawford came up next and singled to keep the rattled Darvish off-kilter. Darvish then walked Yaz and Kevin Pillar cashed them both in with a standup double to clear the bases putting San Francisco ahead 4-2.
The Cubs version of Dick was undoubtedly Javier Báez Tuesday, as he led both early Chicago rallies, too. With one out in the first, he doubled to left and was knocked in by Kris Bryant. Then in the third, he singled with two outs and proceeded to steal both second and third off Bumgarner. Bryant knocked him in again with a double down the left field line.
Asked why the Cubs have struggled in one-run games in 2019, Bryant didn’t have an answer:
“I don’t know how to explain it, sometimes it goes your way sometimes it doesn’t. It doesn’t seem to be going our way this year in terms of one-run games but that’s ok.”
The big lefty got his team off the field and left the bullpen with a 4-3 lead going into the eighth, but for the second night in a row San Francisco’s ever-reliable pen had some leakage. Reyes Moronta gave up a double to Bryant and walked Daniel Descalso before, with two outs, skipper Bruce Bochy pulled the plug.
But despite yet another taxing tilt, the Giants grinded out another win to put together their sixth-straight winning series.
Cubs skipper Joe Maddon attributed Sandoval’s game-winning homer to what are being referred to as juiced balls league-wide:
“To go to the opposite field like that in this ballpark, it’s a testament to the flight of the ball.”
Bumgarner, however, gave the credit to the guy who actually put the ball in flight:
“We’re all excited every time we see him, come up, because we know what he can do, and he did it.”
Bochy closed his post-game press conference in the wake of the Giants sixth extra-inning game in the month of July–all of which they’ve won–with the following quip:
“You guys like extra-innings games? You’ve come to the right place.”
Whether anyone else likes extra-innings games, they certainly seem to be working out swimmingly for the team’s win-loss record and their place in the standings. They are now two games out of the second Wild Card spot and have climbed a game above Arizona putting them behind three instead of four teams, with plenty of time left in the season to keep clawing their way up.
Tyler Beede (3-3, 4.70 ERA) will take on Jon Lester (9-6, 3.87 ERA) in the series finale with the Cubs Wednesday at Oracle Park as San Francisco aims for the sweep. First pitch is scheduled for 12:45 p.m.