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SF Giants walk off Phillies in extras to keep rolling

Danny Emerman, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

SAN FRANCISCO — Memorial Day Weekend ended, but the fun continued for the 34,655 paying attendees at Oracle Park on Tuesday night.

The crowd erupted as Tyler Fitzgerald slid home, face-first, for the game-winning run in the 10th inning. Luis Matos, the rookie outfielder, walked off the Phillies with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring the speedy Fitzgerald.

Five Giants pitchers kept the vaunted Phillies lineup scoreless, with Spencer Howard — the journeyman pitcher called up to provide length in a bullpen game — delivering four scoreless frames. Sean Hjelle delivered two clutch frames in the ninth and 10th, setting up Matos’ walk-off.

It wasn’t as action-packed as some of their recent comeback victories, but the Giants’ 1-0 win over the MLB-best Phillies was just as impressive. By beating Philadelphia without a traditional starter, San Francisco (29-27) has now won 10 of its last 12 games.

Preventing base runners at all costs is paramount against Philadelphia, who boasted MLB’s best record and leads the sport in runs. The objective becomes especially tenuous when their opponent runs out a bullpen game like the Giants did.

Matt Chapman helped with his defense, charging a hard comebacker that glanced off Taylor Rogers’ glove with his bare hand to end the second inning. The trio of Erik Miller, Rogers and Spencer Howard limited Philadelphia to three hits in the first four scoreless innings. After Howard struck out Brandon Marsh to strand two runners and end the fourth, Marsh tossed his bat in frustration.

Another sharp play on the left side of the Giants’ infield — Brett Wisely shoveling a sharp grounder to Chapman for a putout — negated a leadoff double by JT Realmuto in the sixth inning.

Putting base runners on was even harder against Zack Wheeler, who entered the night with a 2.53 ERA. To beat one of the league’s “elite” starters, as manager Bob Melvin described Wheeler pregame, the Giants needed to either knock him off his rhythm by being aggressive early in counts or force him to work his pitch count up.

By design or not, the Giants chose the latter. Leadoff man Luis Matos saw 14 pitches in his first two at-bats, including a near-homer that hooked just foul in the left-field corner. Patrick Bailey and Mike Yastrzemski drew walks, and by the time the Giants notched their first two hits, Wheeler was at 71 pitches through four innings.

 

The Giants didn’t necessarily chase him out, but they ended Wheeler’s night after six shutout innings and 101 pitches. The ace left a 0-0 game, as the Giants’ relievers and defense muted the Phillies’ order.

But Philadelphia’s bullpen isn’t like that of the Pirates or Mets, whom the Giants mounted ferocious rallies against on their recent road trip.

Orion Kerkering struck out two while sitting the Giants down in order in the seventh. A pair of pinch hitters — Fitzgerald for Brett Wisely, Wilmer Flores for Trenton Brooks — wasn’t enough to get to Jose Alvarado in the eighth. Fitzgerald walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch, but got stranded there as Mike Yastrzemski grounded out to end the scoring chance.

A 1-2-3 top of the ninth from Sean Hjelle nonetheless gave the middle of the Giants’ lineup a chance for a walk-off.

Thairo Estrada legged out a broken-bat infield single to lead off the frame. Matt Chapman, the streaky hitter on a hot streak, drove him to second with a lined single.

With two on and no outs, the Giants had their best chance of the night. But Patrick Bailey, Jorge Soler and Fitzgerald couldn’t come through, sending the Giants into their fourth extra-innings game of the past week.

Hjelle slapped his glove in celebration after retiring the Phillies in order in the 10th, giving his offense another chance. They wouldn’t miss again.

On the backs of five pitchers, San Francisco needed just one knock to win. Wilmer Flores moved Fitzgerald, the automatic runner, to third with a sacrifice fly to center. Then Matos got just enough depth on his fly to win it.


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