Brandon Belt

Giants take 2-1 lead on walk-off bunt, error (and I took photos)

What else can you say about a game like that? It’s a wonderful time to be in San Francisco. My days as a credentialed baseball reporter are over in 2014, so I waited until the last minute, “bought” a ticket on Stubhub (Rewards FanCode bucks really are the best), and walked down to AT&T Park.

I brought my camera, and spent the beginning and end of the game taking photos. I was sitting close to the press box, but not *in* the press box. My vantage point kicked the crap out of the view from the auxiliary seats. (LOL poor Damon)

The first inning saw the Giants put together their best rally of the postseason since the wild card game, starting with Buster Posey’s opposite field single, which was followed by a single to left from Pablo Sandoval and this double (on a neck-high pitch) by Hunter Pence.

Hunter Pence double Game 3 2014 NLCS

After Brandon Belt got ahead 3-0 on John Lackey, Mike Matheny called for an intentional walk to bring up Travis Ishikawa with the bases loaded. I had no idea where Ishikawa’s ball was going to land after he made contact, but I enjoyed this view of the fans in the arcade trying to make sense of what was happening in their vicinity.


Travis Ishikawa double reaction AT&T Park

Anyway, Ishikawa cleared the bases and the Giants were on their way to a well-deserved haaa-ha-ha-ha-ha-laugher. Except that’s not what happened at all, because the Giants stopped hitting after this inning. A.J. Pierzynski came out to the mound and gave John Lackey some moral support, and because both of them have hearts made of plutonium and kitty litter, the trip to the mound somehow worked.

A.J. Pierzynski John Lackey

I’ve got to give it to Tim Hudson, though. The man pitched very well. Ginormous slugger Matt Carpenter had a very difficult time picking up the ball, a rare sight in these playoffs.

Tim Hudson San Francisco Giants Game 3 NLCS

No bottom lips were bitten off during this pitch. I think.

That’s the face of a man who wanted to make the most of his first LCS start, but Jon Jay and Kolten Wong are dead set on making Giants fans hate them, and the no-name guy who’s playing right field instead of Oscar Taveras hit one off the foul pole to tie it. Little known fact: the same rules apply when balls are hit in fair territory over the fence. The Giants haven’t hit a home run in about 200 plate appearances, but whining after the way this game turned out wouldn’t be sporting.

The story going into this game was the Giants bullpen, which is always the case after losses because everyone expects the bullpen to pitch 11 scoreless innings like they did in Game 2 of the NLDS.

Jeremy Affeldt might end up being known as the best postseason reliever in franchise history when it’s all said and done. He recorded five outs, and he even retired the Jay-bird.

Jeremy Affeldt Giants

I’m not sure why, but I got photo-happy during the top of the ninth. It’s always nice to see Pierzynski make an out …

A.J. Pierzynski out at first base NLCS Brandon Belt

And Santiago Casilla was fired up after his fourth perfect inning in five playoff appearances (and in the other appearance he walked a dude and that was it).

Santiago Casilla SF Giants 2014 NLCS Game 3

Buster Posey looked happy in the photo below, probably because he thought Pence, Belt or Michael Morse would break the dinger-less streak in the bottom of the ninth and send everyone home happy. Ha! No conventional walk-offs for this group.

Buster Posey San Francisco Giants 2014 NLCS Game 3

Javier Lopez retired Peter Bourjos on on a groundout to short and struck out Carpenter, but even his side-slinging arm slot was no match for Jay (who collected his third hit of the day and sixth of the series).

Javier Lopez SF Giants 2014 NLCS Game 3

So with Jay on first, Sergio Romo came in and gave up a sharp grounder down the line to Matt Holliday that Sandoval snagged.

Sergio Romo San Francisco Giants 2014 NLCS Game 3

At this point I settled in and got ready for another eight innings of baseball.

It was the 10th inning, and I was pretty sure Brandon Crawford would do something against Randy Choate. Crawford’s been a badass against lefties all season. Crawford worked a full count walk, which brought up Juan Perez. That’s where I figured this inning would end, especially when Perez showed his bunting prowess.

The game got delightfully weird from that point, with Perez fouling off two bunt attempt and drilling a single to left field four pitches later — just like Bruce Bochy drew it up. Then Gregor Blanco set up to bunt, I was thinking of some cool and hip Ned Yost jokes to post on Twitter, and a split-second later Choate’s throw was on its way to the visitor’s bullpen.

2014 NLCS Game 3 SF Giants walk off

Belt was a prominent figure in this walk-off celebration, at least from my vantage point.

2014 NLCS Game 3 San Francisco Giants walk off win

Perez is so happy here:

San Francisco Giants 2014 NLCS Game 3 walk off

“Hey guys, why don’t y’all put me on your shoulders like Jim Schwartz.”

Brandon Belt 2014 NLCS Game 3 walk off SF Giants

The Giants didn’t put Belt on their shoulders like the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, which is just as well. They need to conserve their strength if they want to hit another home run in 2014. Just kidding, we all know that’ll never happen. And for this group, which has advanced to the NLCS and taken a 2-1 series lead over the Cardinals by scoring runs in all sorts of silly ways, that’s probably OK.

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