It was a night of firsts against an old foe.
Kelby Tomlinson, a day after his first home run, a grand slam, recorded his first walk off. Kelby mania is real for the Giants. A Kelby Specs giveaway, or something, is surely in the making.
Bottom of the ninth, bases loaded and game tied 4-4 with one out, Tomlinson pulled a single inches past Kevin Siegrist’s (L, 5-1, 1.84 ERA) glove and over the five-man infield to score Brandon Belt from third, handing the Giants the 5-4 win over the Cardinals on Friday night.
Marlon Byrd told him last night to enjoy his moments, so Tomlinson didn’t hold back this time — he hurled his bat to the side and skipped away with the biggest grin toward his teammates:
“It’s tough to beat the ovation I got out on the field yesterday, that was unbelievable. But this was special too because it won the game in a playoff race. So they’re both really special.”
Reporters got to see his response to the impressive, albeit hilarious, bat flip:
“That’s embarrassing! I didn’t mean to get into it like that. I usually don’t like to do anything like that but, jeez. … The pitcher was making awesome pitches, he was doing really good, so I was excited because it was a tough at bat. Man, I didn’t know I was gonna look like that.”
Bat flips are usually shoves in the opposing pitchers’ face, but this one was just a pure jovial accident. Like he just wanted to just get rid of it and celebrate already. Said Marlon Byrd:
“Oh it was perfect. He started hopping around. That’s exciting. Grand slam yesterday, first home run of his career. I believe it’s his first walkoff. In two days we needed it and he came through.”
Kelby’s first walkoff followed another big first: Byrd, who had faced starter Michael Wacha more than anyone on the Giants, got his first hit against the ace. A grand slam, no less, off a very high curveball hit dead center to give his team an early 4-0 lead in the third.
“I got one pitch to do something with and just swung on it.”
It was the first time Wacha, the Cards’ win leader, has allowed a grand slam in his career. He’s only 24, though, give it time.
First time the Giants have recorded more than seven grand slams in a season–Byrd’s was the eighth this year.
One more first: Mike Leake, who the Giants acquired nearly a month ago, got his first start on the AT&T Park mound. Sure, he’s been injured — he is a Giant after all — but it’s about time.
He was looking positively Bumgarner-esque through the first few innings, if you add in a killer sinker, nearly striking out the side in the first and holding the powerful Cards hitless through three. He felt good on this mound:
“Finally coming here and doing it at home was pretty special. It was a tough game, it was a good played game as well.”
He couldn’t hold them much longer, though, succumbing to a fourth-inning rally in response to Byrd’s slam the inning before. He didn’t get a whole lot of help from the defense, too.
Matt Carpenter got the leadoff hit and moved to second on a wild pitch. Matt Duffy chose a potential double play, gone awry, over the easy out at third on a Jhonny Peralta ground ball and Yadier Molina pushed him home on an opposite field single.
Kelby Tomlinson couldn’t turn another double play on a Kolten Wong dribbler, setting runners on the corners with Stephen Piscotty to bat. He doubled to left, clearing the bases and cutting the Giants’ lead to one.
They tied it up on a wild pitch in the sixth; Tommy Pham had tagged up second and third after a leadoff single before his quick and damaging journey home.
Leake lasted six innings and 94 pitches. He gave up six hits, those four runs and tallied four strikeouts on the way.
The tie came down to the ninth: Brandon Belt cracked a leadoff single and Buster Posey, Gregor Blanco drew walks. Kelby Tomlinson, with one out and yesterday’s grand slam vibes running through him, delivered.
While Leake held down the best team in baseball for a hare over six innings, Javier Lopez (W, 1-0, 1.32 ERA) got his first win of the season. And the Giants continue to roll.
Gregor Blanco put down a perfect bunt down the first base line to lead off a tied eighth and Jonathan Broxton’s throw to first sailed into right field. It looked like a pretty big moment during the NLCS with a little less Randy Choate.
Notes: Matt Cain went on the 15-day DL today with right elbow irritation and Chris Heston was called up from Sacramento, well rested. Something isn’t right with Cain and who nows how long it will be before he’s healthy for the long haul…Brandon Crawford is out for this series, said Bruce Bochy…Joe Panik took ground balls today and is close to a rehab assignment.