Entering Friday, the Giants and San Diego Padres ranked second and sixth respectively in one-run games this season. The California rivals played their 64th-combined one-run game Friday night in San Diego, with the Giants prevailing 2-1 in 11 innings.
Pablo Sandoval, for the second time in three games, snuck a solo home run over the left-field fence to give the Giants the lead, handing Padres pitcher Logan Allen (L, 2-3, 6.75 ERA) the loss. Giants reliever Mark Melancon (W, 4-2, 3.57 ERA) earned the win after striking out two, flashing a sharp breaking curveball and a 94-mph fastball in a perfect 10th inning.
This was the Giants’ sixth extra-inning game in their last 10. Manager Bruce Bochy said he’d never been in so many extra-inning games in such a short period of time:
“It comes down to, you know, these guys just keep fighting. The bullpen, what a great job they did. … Just another hard fought game. These guys seem to like that, going to overtime.”
Bochy said Sandoval’s love of the game and his flexibility are what have stood out to him most since Sandoval returned to the Giants in 2017:
“He’s always been a good player. He had a little bump in the road there, I know, when he went to Boston but sometimes you got to be where you’re comfortable. He’s home now and I mean you could see a different Pablo when he came back, he was glad to be back.”
Sandoval came into the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth inning, doubling but failing to score. He called it a big challenge to succeed in a role in which he is often tasked with facing a team’s best relievers late in a game:
“I just mentally prepare for everything because I know I’m going to face those guys. … I prefer to watch video on what they like to do, what they like to throw, what’s the best pitch and just focusing on when I get to home plate, don’t think too much and get good swings.”
In addition to the number of tight games, the Giants and Padres ranked first and second in the league in terms of win percentage in one-run games at .706 and .625, respectively, entering the game. The Giants, of course, increased that rate with the win.
Samardzija’s outing was his fifth of the month, including a 13-2 Giants win against the Padres on July 1 that kicked off the team’s season-changing July. In those five starts, Samardzija posted a 2.52 ERA across 32-2/3 innings with 30 strikeouts and six walks. He said momentum is the biggest thing the resurgence has given the team:
“I think you win a few games and you start to feel good and then you get a couple breaks and you start to feel good and really that’s kind of what a baseball season’s all about. … Now we’re kind of in a situation where we’re playing with house money and it feels good.”
The Giants struck first Friday night on a Donovan Solano double that missed clearing the center field fence by a couple feet. Solano, the second baseman, drove in first baseman Tyler Austin, who walked and stole second, his first stolen base of the season.
The Padres answered back in the fifth inning via a solo home run from light-hitting catcher Austin Hedges, his eighth of the season.
Beyond the two runs, both teams had quiet bats for most of the night, save for a handful of walks from each team and a smattering of hard contact that ended up nestled in leather.
Giants relievers Reyes Moronta, Sam Dyson, Tony Watson, Melancon and Will Smith and Padres relievers Matt Strahm, Craig Stammen, Kirby Yates, and Andres Munoz combined for eight scoreless half-innings and only two hits allowed.
The Giants played extra innings for the seventh time in 15 games since the All Star Break. They have won all seven games. … Sandoval’s home run was his second of the season as a right-handed hitter, his most in a season since he hit five in 2014. … Prior to the game, the Padres gifted Bochy a comically oversized, custom-engraved bottle of wine and a collage of photos from his 12 years managing the Padres as an early retirement gift. The three-game series is Bochy’s last trip to San Diego as a manager.