The Giants would’ve trudged back to a quiet clubhouse after a 4-3 loss, before driving sadly to their homes and apartments — if this game took place in 2013. But it’s 2014, and the Giants are now 41-21 after beating the Mets 5-4 with a two-run rally in the ninth.
That’s right, it was a walk-off. And this one ended with a mighty drive to Triples Alley by Michael Morse, who walked off the field with not one button on his jersey fastened.
“We don’t give up. We truly think that no matter what the score is, we’re going to find a way to win,” Morse said. “We believe in each other.”
I asked Morse about the jersey, which he tore open during the postgame celebration on “Heroes and Comics Night” like the Incredible Hulk.
“Somebody ripped my jersey and I just said, ‘I’ll just rip the rest of it.’ I don’t know man, it’s awesome. That kind of feeling. That’s the first time I’ve had that opportunity with this ballclub. Those guys are awesome.
“It’s just another memory of being a Giant so far. I can’t take anything away from what these guys have done for me and this organization has done for me. I’m loving every minute of it.”
The Giants started their ninth inning comeback with a strikeout. Angel Pagan took a split-second to realize that the ball had rolled away from Mets catcher Anthony Recker, then he hauled ass and barely beat Recker’s throw.
The Mets probably knew they were in trouble at that point.
Hunter Pence drilled a line drive down the left field line — even with Pagan hesitating on contact in case the ball was caught, he had no problem flying around the bases to score the tying run. Buster Posey didn’t quite get all of Jenrry Mejia’s pitch, but he hit it far enough to left field for Pence to tag from second. Pablo Sandoval was intentionally walked, and up stepped Michael Morse.
Morse is a power threat who’s got the speed (or lack thereof) one would expect from a tall, burly man who’s listed at 245 lbs, and the Mets hoped they could stretch this game to extra innings with the perfect grounder-inducing pitch. Mejia’s 92-mph fastball was on the inside part of the plate, but it wasn’t quite low enough. Probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, not with the way this season has gone for both teams.
Hudson: “I’m as proud of this game as I have been of any of them.”
Due to Tim Hudson pitching so, so well all season, I found myself staring at the way his body reacted to each pitch like a wannabe Dave Groeschner. Is he grimacing? Is the hip hurting again? How could this be happening? Turns out he’s a human being who was just a little bit off mechanically.
Hudson stranded two Mets in the top of the first. But after Lucas Duda led off with a double and Brandon Crawford couldn’t come up cleanly with Ruben Tejada’s grounder, Recker drove in the game’s first run in the second inning. Hudson was lucky to get out of the third only surrendering two runs — he allowed four hits and a walk, but the Mets ran themselves out of the inning when Ruben Tejada found himself between second and third with teammates on each of those bases.
There were pitches that either forced Buster Posey to lunge or got by the Giants catcher altogether, a season-high nine hits and three walks allowed, and frustrated looks throughout his five innings.
However — and this could show just how charmed a life Hudson has led this season, perhaps even more than all those strong outings — he only allowed three runs. That was partly due to the Mets leaving nine guys on base during his five innings, and four of them were stranded when Hudson struck out Bartolo Colon to end the third and fifth innings.
“I always had faith in our guys, going out there and scrapping until the end. It was a great win. It was really an awesome win for us,” Hudson said.
“I’m as proud of this game as I have been of any of them. Even though it was probably my worst game from a pitching standpoint, these kind of games are very satisfying … Most of the time your team loses when your starting pitcher goes out there and doesn’t really have his stuff. We were able to battle and win. That’s the mark of a championship club.”
Colon, 41, struck out all three times he came to the plate against Hudson, but until the sixth inning he was even better at getting out of jams than his 38-year-old counterpart. In fact, Colon would’ve gotten through the sixth inning without incident if it weren’t for David Wright’s throwing error on a grounder by Brandon Hicks, which allowed the Giants to keep the inning going and lower the deficit from three runs to one. Hector Sanchez followed the error with a pinch-hit walk and Pagan fought off an inside pitch for a two-run single the other way.
The Mets brought in Jeurys Familia, a big, hard-throwing righty with a career BB/9 of 5.5 (which is pretty darned high). Pence hit a chopper to short for an infield single, and Posey came up with the bases loaded. Posey got the count full, then struck out on a low 96-mph sinker that would’ve been ball four.
In 2013, that would’ve signaled the Giants’ impending doom. But this team has shown an ability — especially lately — to get away with absolute murder. They can make errors, squander opportunities, hit barely over .200 with less than two outs, and still win game after game. It’s truly remarkable.
— “I’ve always said, the big guys start from the second guy down. Last year and 2012, we had me and (Marco) Scutaro. You’ve got a guy that gets on, somebody will get him over, and the big guys come. Everything starts with the second hole down. It’s good, because Hunter is putting some great at-bats out there and getting the job done, so it’s fun,” said Pagan, who after going 3-for-5 is now hitting .323.
He also teased a few reporters afterward, trying to see if anyone had any good questions (end of the video).
— In case you’re wondering what was up with Hudson, it doesn’t sound like anything that’ll last.
“I was definitely a little bit out of sync. I was probably rushing a tad bit. Especially with guys on base. They did a good job of getting me in the stretch early. Just about every inning they had the leadoff guy on base. It was a little bit of a struggle from a tempo standpoint and mechanically,” he said.
— “It’s not easy coming off the bench and trying to have a good at-bat,” said Sanchez, whose sixth inning walk was huge. “With men on base I try to be more focused in that situation. That’s my job, coming late into the game. I’m looking for good pitches and not trying to do too much.”
— Remember when everyone wondered when Brandon Belt was going to take his first walk of the season? Belt started the year with 41 straight plate appearances (including five home runs) without walking. Posey hasn’t walked since May 16, a stretch of 60 plate appearances.
— It seems like there’s some kind of seagull mascot making the rounds at AT&T Park. I’m not sure if it was a team-sanctioned creation, but it didn’t keep away the ACTUAL seagulls, of which there were dozens.
— If George Kontos doesn’t throw a wild pitch with a guy on third, we’re probably looking at four scoreless innings from the relievers, including three perfect innings to end the game — one each from Juan Gutierrez, Javier Lopez and Jeremy Affeldt (who picked up his first two wins of the season in the first two games of this homestand).
— From before the game: Hudson has some interesting theories on how to pick a winning racehorse.
— Someone called me a “hack” on Facebook because Friday night I wrote about the Rockies’ eight-game losing streak and something Don Mattingly said about his own team that wasn’t that flattering. At the risk of the same guy noticing and calling me the “h-word” again, Colorado ended their losing streak with a a 5-4 win over L.A. in a game where both Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig left in the middle innings due to hip injuries. Neither injury sounds all that serious, but Gordon said he to have his hip stretched out by a trainer before the game.
— The Giants are now 9.5 games ahead of Los Angeles.