SF Giants nearly let sweep slip away against Pirates, but Thairo Estrada saves the day

Evan Webeck, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

SAN FRANCISCO —The Giants’ best, maybe last, chance at a postseason push is off to a good start.

With a sweep of the Pirates, completed Sunday afternoon with a walk-off 8-7 win, the Giants did exactly what it will take over their final 48 games to close the gap for the final National League wild card spot.

Thairo Estrada ended the back-and-forth marathon with a walk-off blast to left field, only made possible after Mike Yastrzemski legged out a potential double play ground ball the previous batter.

Evan Longoria nearly played the goat, airmailing a throw to first base that allowed Pittsburgh to take a 7-6 lead in the top of the ninth, but ultimately played a critical role in the win, singling to lead off the bottom of the ninth.

San Francisco still trails San Diego by 6.5 games, with the Brewers in between them, but has a chance to make up more ground over the next nine games, all of which come against opponents that share something in common with the team the Giants just easily dispatched: a losing record.

Behind a solid start from Alex Wood, the red-hot wood of LaMonte Wade Jr. and some late theatrics, that is a designation that, for now, no longer applies to the Giants, who improved to .500 again with their three straight wins over the Pirates.

After taking over for Wood to start the seventh, John Brebbia faced four batters and retired none of them. He walked the leadoff man, No. 9 hitting catcher Jason Delay, and allowed a single before serving up the longest ball hit at Oracle Park this season to former San Francisco outfield prospect Bryan Reynolds.

Reynolds’ three-run homer landed 442 feet away, clearing the visitor’s bullpen in center field, and completed the Giants’ collapse after racing out to a 5-0 lead.


Pittsburgh’s shoddy defense, however, allowed the Giants to pull even in the bottom half. After Wilmer Flores led off the bottom of the seventh with a single, he was able to score from second when second baseman Kevin Newman and shortstop Oneil Cruz allowed a popup from Brandon Crawford to land between them in shallow center field.

Wood struck out a season-high nine batters while tossing six solid but was hurt again trying to navigate the Pirates’ lineup for a third time.

Entering Sunday, opposing hitters had a .921 OPS against Wood facing him for a third time in a game, nearly 300 points higher than the marks for his first (.624) and second (.635) times through the order.

After blanking the Pirates for four innings, Wood allowed their first three runs once the lineup flipped over for a third time in the fifth. Once again, it was Reynolds doing the damage against the organization that traded him away (for Andrew McCutchen before the 2018 season) as a 22-year-old prospect, with a two-run double.

Wade gave the Giants a 4-0 lead in the second inning when he sent a low changeup over the 391′ sign in center field. The three-run homer came after Tommy La Stella doubled home Brandon Crawford and was Wade’s fourth long ball in the past seven games.

Flores doubled home Joc Pederson to make it 5-0 in the fourth for his team-leading 58th RBI, one away from matching a career-high. Pederson and Crawford, two of the slowest runners in the majors, both scored all the way from first base, something only five teams had done fewer times than the Giants this season entering Sunday.

Pederson reached base after getting hit by a pitch in his hand and was replaced the following inning on defense by Austin Slater. The Giants later announced that Pederson had suffered a right-hand contusion (bruise).

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