Giants keep defying odds, make wild MLB history vs. A’s originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
What happened in the late innings in Oakland the last couple of days just doesn’t happen.
It’s rare that a team has one moment like the one the Giants had Saturday, when LaMonte Wade Jr. stunned the A’s with a two-run homer in the ninth that proved to be the game winner, but the Giants did it again just 23 hours later. Donovan Solano matched Wade with his own two-run shot, turning a disappointing afternoon into a 2-1 win and a series victory.
The Giants have been setting the bar all season when it comes to pinch-hitting, but those two swings took them to a different level. They became the first team in MLB history to get pinch-hit homers in the eighth inning or later to turn a deficit into a lead in back-to-back games.
So yeah, what happened in the late innings the last couple of days just doesn’t happen. Except with this Giants team, you can almost start to expect it.
“It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” said Logan Webb, who threw six more strong innings. “I almost knew — it’s kind of weird to say but you almost knew it was going to happen.”
That’s the kind of run this team is on right now. The Giants became the first MLB team to reach 80 wins and extended their NL West lead back to 2 1/2 games, and once again they did it because they always have an advantage late in games. Solano’s blast off A.J. Puk was the 14th pinch-hit homer of the season, tying a franchise record. No other MLB team is in double digits.
The last two came from players who have spent their entire baseball lives not focusing on home runs, although Wade has turned into a power hitter this season. Solano has tapped into a bit more power at times as a Giant, but still entered the day with just five homers and a .384 slugging percentage.
Yet there he was, pinch-hitting for Wade, of all people, and pulling his hands in to smoke a 97 mph fastball from Puk, who had been dominant since coming back from Triple-A. It was the first career pinch-hit homer for Solano, who said he was just looking for a fastball in. He got it on the first pitch.
“Thank God he threw me one and I just made a good swing on it,” Solano said.
That is the path to success for all Giants hitters these days, but it still defies belief at times. You would expect that the Giants would mix in a helpful pinch-hit single here or there, but no, they tend to go big. Manager Gabe Kapler didn’t even seem all that surprised that his latest pinch-hit choice immediately cleared the wall.
“The power stroke hasn’t shown up quite as much this year but we know it’s still in there,” he said of Solano. “It certainly doesn’t surprise any of us in the dugout that Donovan was able to jump on that pitch. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but it really is about the preparation. I don’t think Donovan went up there trying to hit a homer, but he knew what he was looking for, he jumped on that pitch, and he was able to elevate it and get it in the air. It just so happened it went out of the ballpark.”
Source: Yahoo Sports