Jake Peavy pitching. Trevor Hoffman relieving. The San Francisco Giants down to their last out in their efforts to prevent the San Diego Padres magic number from becoming two. Game (and season) over, right?
In perhaps the most inspirational victory of the year, the Giants stunned Hoffman, the Padres, and just about every furry onlooker at Petco Park by rallying for two runs in the ninth inning against the future Hall of Fame closer in an electrifying 3-2 win on Monday night.
This was, in many senses, a David and Goliath story. The Giants denied Peavy a victory after the Padres ace limited the Giants to one run on six hits through eight sometimes dominant inning. The Giants stopped Hoffmans consecutive saves streak at 38 the man had previously blown only two saves, the last coming on April 29th. All on a day in which Davids largest slingshot was largely ineffective at the plate Barry Bonds went 0-for-5 and stranded seven runners on base.
How did they do it? Fast forward to the ninth inning, where Hells Bells announced the entrance of Hoffman with the Padres clinging to a 2-1 lead. After inducing Pedro Feliz to pop out to first, Hoffman yielded a single to Mike Matheny to get things going for the Giants. Pinch hitter Edgardo Alfonzo then flied out to right, and set up what could be the most unforgettable play of the year for both squads.
With two outs and the crown on its feet, Hoffman made a mistake to leadoff hitter and lightning rod Randy Winn, who crushed a ball to deep center field. Brian Giles made a leap for it at the wall, and the ball found his mitt in the air. Hoffman and the Padres pyrotechnical engineers began to celebrate, but there was just one problem the wall jarred the ball from Giles glove, and fell into play, turning a fabulous game-ending catch into a triple for Winn, scoring the pinch runner Jason Ellison and tying the game 2-2.
Fans listening on the radio could literally hear the life being sucked out of all Padres fans. They soon had more reason to lose their enthusiasm with Winn now on third and following a walk to Omar Vizquel, J.T. Snow hit a seeing-eye single off of Hoffman that plated Winn for a most improbably 3-2 Giants lead.
But lets back up. The way the ballgame started, Vegas would have given the Giants terrible odds at a comeback. Giants starting pitcher Brad Hennessey began the game by finding too much of the strike zone, and promptly gave up solid hits to the first two batters of the game a single by Mark Loretta and a homer to Ryan Klesko (his first in nearly a month) for a 2-0 Padres lead.
Not surprisingly, the lead held up with Peavy on the mound for San Diego. Other than a few scares (loading the bases in the third with two hit batsmen), the only run the Padres ace gave up was in the fifth, when the Giants put together two doubles by Winn and Snow to narrow the gap to 2-1.
The Padres 2 runs stayed that way because of some stellar pitching by Hennessey and hitless relief by Jeremy Accardo, Jack Taschner, Tyler Walker, and closer Armando Benitez, who sealed the Padres doomed ninth inning without incident. The Giants bullpen (not to mention Bonds and his surgically repaired knee, Moises Alou and his aching groin, and J.T. Snow and his hamstring, among others) must be tired, but this is certainly the kind of game that can energize a team for a last minute stretch drive.
SFDugouts Player of the Game: Winn. As important as Bonds is to this team, its hard (or at least painful) to imagine where the Giants would be without this trade deadline pickup. Winn went 4-for-4 and reached base five times, scoring two of the Giants three runs. They dont win this one without him. Huge props also to Hennessey, who was solid after a shaky first inning, limiting the Padres to three hits in six innings, and a rubber-armed bullpen for completely extinguishing the Padres bats.
Don Shin eats, breathes, thinks, and bleeds in Orange and Black. Pac Bell Park officially opened on his 25th birthday (the one year he decided to move out of the Bay Area!!!). For the 2000 playoff drive, he dyed his hair orange while studying in Korea. He watched Game 6 of the '02 World Series at a restaurant in LA, and couldn't finish his meal afterwards. Feel free to write him at email@example.com to commiserate, cheer, and complain.
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