Blake Snell blanks Blue Jays as SF Giants earn walkoff win

Evan Webeck, The Mercury News on

Published in Baseball

SAN FRANCISCO — The calendar turned to July and Blake Snell turned into himself.

Delayed by his late signing, then two stints on the injured list, the version of the two-time Cy Young award winner the Giants thought they were getting when they inked the left-hander to a $62 million contract finally showed up Tuesday evening at Oracle Park.

Kicking off the Giants’ final homestand before the All-Star break, Snell blanked the Blue Jays for five innings, surrendering just a single hit, and put himself in line to earn his first win in seven starts with his new club. He didn’t factor into the decision, though, as it took more late theatrics for the Giants to pull out a walkoff win, 4-3, over the American League East’s basement dwellers.

Down to their last out, Tyler Fitzgerald took ball four and the next batter, Brett Wisely, bounced a chopper past the pitcher’s mound and off the glove of a diving Leo Jiménez at second base, allowing Patrick Bailey to score the tying run, and six pitches later Fitzgerald raced home from third on a wild pitch from Trevor Richards, who wasn’t able to protect the 3-2 lead Toronto took into the bottom of the ninth.

Fitzgerald’s solo shot an inning earlier put the Giants in position for their ninth-inning comeback, after they nearly wasted the best outing of the year they’ve received from Snell.

Two innings after Snell departed holding a 1-0 advantage — courtesy of Heliot Ramos’ team-leading 13th home run of the year — Ryan Walker surrendered a three-spot in the seventh, issuing a one-out walk and a double that both came home to score when his two-strike slider over the inner half of the plate to Ernie Clement landed in the left-field bleachers.

The home run represented the first earned runs allowed by Walker since June 1, also the last time he surrendered a long ball. Clement’s blast snapped a streak of 17 straight innings without an earned run that lowered Walker’s ERA to 1.91 entering his National League-leading 46th appearance of the season.

A couple young Giants provided their own power display hours after president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi explained the “vote of confidence” in them the front office made by recently parting ways with a pair of veterans, setting the stage for them to contribute to the walkoff win in the ninth.

Leading off the eighth, Fitzgerald put a spark in the 32,124 on hand with a home run that evaded the glove of a leaping Daulton Varsho in left field to pull the Giants within 3-2. And with a two-out double, Ramos gave them the tying run at second base but he was stranded there when Matt Chapman struck out for the third time.

Opening a 1-0 advantage in the fourth, Ramos launched an 0-2 fastball into the visitor’s bullpen and on his way home slapped hands with third base coach Matt Williams, who was the last Giants player 25 or younger with as many home runs as Ramos through his first 55 games of the season.

The solo shot from Ramos was the 24-year-old outfielder’s first home run since being named an All-Star on Sunday and reclaimed the team lead from Chapman. Asked before the game about participating in the home run derby, Ramos said he hadn’t been asked and sheepishly responded, “You think I have the juice?”


Fitzgerald’s home run proved to be the final straw for Yusei Kikuchi, who didn’t quite match Snell for five innings but outlasted him and struck out 13 without issuing a walk over 7⅓ innings.

In a departure from his typical style, Snell wasn’t overpowering but he was efficient. He recorded only six swings and misses and punched out just three batters, both figures topped in his previous six less-than-stellar starts. But he completed five innings for the first time in a Giants uniform and required only 73 pitches.

An infamous slow starter, Snell’s ERA after six starts on his way to the National League Cy Young last year sat at 5.28. By this time of the calendar, he had lowered that figure to 2.85 and would shave off another three-fifths of a point by the end of the season.

Whatever kinks Snell had to work out — and, sporting a 9.51 ERA through his first six starts, clearly there were plenty — he apparently did so in side sessions and across his five rehab outings, the last of which he struck out nine Triple-A hitters without allowing a hit over five scoreless innings.

“To be that overpowering at that level, you can’t have any better of a stepping stone to being back in the big leagues than that,” Zaidi said before the game, echoing Giants manager Bob Melvin, who added, “I think this is as prepared as he’s been going to the mound today.”


OF Jorge Soler was scratched before first pitch with an illness.

3B Matt Chapman received the Gold Glove award he won last season with the Toronto Blue Jays — the fourth of his career — in a pregame ceremony.

Up next

RHP Logan Webb (7-6, 3.09) gets the ball in his final start before he heads to Arlington, Texas, for his first All-Star appearance. He’ll be opposed by RHP Chris Bassitt (7-7, 3.43), who faces off against his former manager from their days in Oakland. First pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.

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