In their final home game of the 2022 season, the San Francisco Giants continued their recent stretch of solid baseball as they defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-3 in walk-off fashion courtesy of a David Villar game-winning single in the tenth.
The Giants, who were offically eliminated from postseason contention after Saturday’s loss to Arizona, finished the home season 44-37 – a steep dropoff from last year’s 54-27 record on the shores of McCovey Cove.
San Francisco (80-79) has now won 11 of their last 14 games.mlb
With the bases loaded in the tenth against Arizona reliever Taylor Widener, Villar grounded a single through the 5-1/2 hole and into left field, scoring Mike Yastrzemski easily from third. Wilmer Flores was chugging right behind him, trying to score from second, and slid in ahead of the strong throw to the plate.
Villar’s knock was his first career walkoff hit:
“Just trying to get something good something good to hit –– battling the shadows was gonna go longer into the at-bat so I wanted to get my best swing off the first pitch, trying to keep the ball off the ground. Luckily, it squeaked through the six hole –– I was trying to get the ball in the air. I was just fortunate to be able to get that walkoff for us.”
Villar described his 2022 campaign as “up and down” with “good things” and “not good things.” The 25-year-old entered into Sunday’s contest with a 101 OPS+, exactly at the league-average mark. Along with his 27 homers at the Triple-A level, Villar crushed seven in the big leagues for a total of 34 long balls. Manager Gabe Kapler sees him as an important part of the future:
“There are very few rookies who get to the big leagues and tear the cover off the ball immediately. Villar has very much held his own. He has hit for some power. He has come up big in in important spots and he’s added second base to his arsenal. He can play third, he could play second – he’s going to come into camp next year being able to play all three of those infield positions. And yeah, I think he certainly validated our internal evaluations.”
In a 2-2 game in the tenth, Arizona’s Jake McCarthy knocked a double to right off right-hander Jharel Cotton, driving in the automatic “ghost runner” from second to give the D-Backs a late 3-2 lead. Cotton pitched with the ghost runner once prior while with Minnesota, so he knew limiting Arizona to one run was important:
“It was so key because I know once I get these guys in the dugout, they’re gonna do their job and get us going, which is what happened. So it was good to get them in ASAP. These fans are really amazing. I’ve always been a fan of the Bay fans – they’re loyal. They treat you with respect. So thank you to all the fans that showed out today and to get this one means a lot.”
Austin Slater had a key swing of the bat for San Francisco, coming off the bench in the seventh inning to crank a go-ahead, solo-shot to deep left-center field to break a 1-1 tie. It was Slater’s first homer since he took Braves right-hander Kyle Wright deep in Atlanta on June 23 and his sixth career pinch-hit homer.
Though the Giants haven’t matched the success in the pinch-hitting department from last season, Slater has been a bright spot in the role, going 9-for-28 (.321) with 11 walks and a .548 OPS while hitting off the bench.
In possibly his final home game at Oracle Park, Evan Longoria provided an early run in the first inning to get the Giants on the board. Wilmer Flores doubled, J.D. Davis walked, then Joc Pederson ripped a single up the middle, setting the stage for a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off the bat of Longoria – a rocket hit on the screws directly into the glove of Arizona left fielder Corbin Carroll.
Longoria, 36, has been an above-average bat for San Francisco’s lineup but has struggled mightily to stay on the field. He’s played in just 89 games in 2022 and has reached the injured list three different times, most recently for a strained hamstring. Despite a crowded bill of health, Longoria has spoken highly about possibly returning back to the Giants.
The organization has a choice to pick up Longoria’s $13 million club option for 2023 or pay a $5 million buyout. The decision could be determined by his production this season. While still a steady defender at third base, Longoria has quietly recorded an .816 OPS against left-handed pitching and a .776 OPS overall. There’s still some power, too. He’s blasted 14 balls into the seats.
In the tenth, Longoria took a sharp ground ball off his hand at third base. He remained in the game after taking inventory with a trainer, but would’ve been pinch-hit for if his spot were to come up in the order again, Kapler said.
The Giants had an early 1-0 lead, but their offense struggled with inefficiencies throughout the game against D-Backs veteran starter Zach Davies. Over five innings of work, Davies – a control pitcher that relies heavily on nibbling at the corners with his two-seamer – allowed just two hits, but walked five. San Francisco was putting the ball in play, but just couldn’t cash in for a big inning.
Lefty reliever Scott Alexander made another start on the mound, acting as the Giants opener for the second consecutive afternoon. It marks the first time San Francisco has used the same starter in back-to-back games since 1965 when righty Bob Shaw started on July 24 and 25 against Milwaukee. Alexander allowed two hits, but escaped the first inning cleanly.
Arizona had 13 hits, but the Giants turned three double plays. All of the twin-killings were started by shortstop Brandon Crawford, including one that ended the top-half of third inning where Crawford ranged far to his right and made an off-balance throw to second from the hole. It was a vintage Crawford play, a sight that he’s shown off quite a bit as of late. On another note, San Francisco’s bullpen fanned only one D-Backs hitter all game.
After the game, Kapler saluted the passion the fans brought to the ballpark all season long:
“We couldn’t feel more supported by our fans all season long and today was a perfect indication of it. Obviously that support carried through, not just the end of the game, but sort of like five minutes ago. It was really cool experience for all of our players and staff.”
San Francisco finish off the regular season in San Diego for a three-game series. The Giants haven’t wrapped up the season on the road since 2012 when they concluded in Los Angeles against the Dodgers. Since Oracle Park opened in 2000, there have only been six years the Giants have finished on the road. Monday evening will feature a bullpen game for the Giants. First pitch is 6:40 p.m.
The Giants have shut down ace right-hander Logan Webb and he will not make his final scheduled start in San Diego against the Padres. Kapler says the organization made the call with their eyes on Webb’s long-term health and workload in 2022. Webb has also battled through some low back tightness, which has landed him on the injured list. … Rookie Sean Hjelle was recalled from Triple-A and is expected to pitch in at least one of the remaining games. … Jakob Junis was optioned to Triple-A after pitching in his final game of the season on Saturday afternoon. Reliever Luis Ortiz was called up. … The locker of injured infielder Tommy La Stella has been cleaned out and given to Jason Vosler. Kapler says the organization allowed La Stella to go home early and start preparing for the 2023 season. The 33-year-old played in just 60 games this season – mostly as a designated hitter – notching a .632 OPS. He’s been on the injured list since Sept. 12 with neck spasms.
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.