The last game of the Giants’ 2017 season got off to an all-too-familiar start Sunday afternoon.
The San Diego Padres (71-91) tagged starter Johnny Cueto for 12 hits and four runs on 93 pitches in just 5 innings. But the Giants clawed their way back into the game, knotting it up at 4-4, and the bottom of the ninth offered something not so familiar — a reminder of the good old days.
Pablo Sandoval knocked a walk-off homer over the right field wall to end a dismal season on a high note giving the San Francisco a 5-4 win in Game 162. But it wasn’t all positive as the Giants moved out of baseball’s cellar, costing them the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
While Cueto (ND, 8-8, 4.52 ERA) bowed out after a quiet fifth, Sandoval’s homer and the Giant’s defensive prowess saved the starter the indignity of having his record dip below .500 for the season. Said Cueto:
“It seemed like I didn’t have everything because it was the last game of the year, but you know after the fourth inning I kind of settled down and finished strong.”
Manager Bruce Bochy commended his starter for giving the team a shot to come back:
“He battled a rough start, but you know he kept us in the game.”
The Giants scored one run in the second inning when Buster Posey doubled on a liner down into the left field corner and was moved to second on a fly ball from Brandon Crawford, then home on a Sandoval grounder to first.
But it was the fourth inning when the Giants found fuel in the tank. Denard Span led off with a single and subsequently stole both second and third bases during Posey’s at-bat. With runners at first and third the team-leader in RBIs, Crawford, did what he does best scorching a double down the left field line to bring Span home for his 77th.
Following the game, his last in a big league uniform, Matt Cain offered fans and teammates an emotional farewell bringing to an official end his 13-year career in the City by the Bay:
“San Francisco thank you for putting this jersey on me.”
In the wake of a disappointing season the Giants clubhouse was filled with handshakes, hugs and, “See you next years,” but for one Giant, Cain, next year holds the promise of life after baseball:
“What made my decision easier was knowing that I was going to be a Giant and only a Giant. San Francisco has meant so much to me and the way that the guys took care of me through all the years and the organization just did a tremendous job putting a lot of faith in myself and my family, they took care of us.”
Hunter Pence made a diving catch on a Hunter Renfroe line drive out to left to end the 7th, and after climbing to his feet gingerly he exited the game to be replaced by Gorkys Hernandez in the 8th, but he is expected to be fine. Said Bochy:
“He’s got a little time to rest. He’s off tomorrow.”