San Francisco Giants: Most Memorable Highlights of the Season's 1st Half
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...let's talk about the best ones.
With the San Francisco Giants in the midst of a painful midseason skid, it can be hard for their fans to swallow watching the defending champs struggle. It can be difficult to remember the "best of times."
These moments from the first half of the 2013 season will lift even the most pessimistic fan's spirits. Here are some of the highlights of the season thus far.
1. Back-to-Back Walk-Off Home Runs to Beat the Los Angeles Dodgers
Rewind way back to the beginning of May. The Giants were winning—but not with their usual formula of lights-out pitching. No, they were winning because of timely hitting and an ability to come back no matter the deficit.
This May series against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers was no different.
Let's start on May 3, when Giants catcher Buster Posey was the hero in a game in which Dodger's ace Clayton Kershaw pitched seven innings, allowing just one run on three hits.
Giants pitcher Barry Zito held on for five innings, but lost the lead in his final inning.
In the ninth, Posey came to bat. The face of the franchise already two World Series victories, won the NL Rookie of the Year and the NL MVP award, but he had never before hit a walk-off of any kind, let alone a home run.
Posey crushed a 3-2 pitch served on a silver platter by Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario and the ball went soaring into the left field bleachers, sealing a 2-1 Giants' victory.
The second-best part of the night? The fact that is was Metallica Night at AT&T Park. Seeing pictures of the entire Giants lineup in Photoshopped Metallica gear? Priceless.
But the magical moment extended another day.
On May 5, the Giants were in another close game against the Dodgers. This time, the walk-off hero was backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz, as his home run in the bottom of the 10th inning lifted the Giants to victory again.
Two walk-off home runs in two games at home against the Giants' rival from down south was pretty sweet.
2. Matt Cain Rebounds, Giants Overcome 6-Run Deficit and Prove Pluckiness
It's no secret that the Giants started the season as the comeback kings.
This particular come-from-behind win against the Colorado Rockies was special for a number of reasons. First, the team was returning from a terrible series against the Toronto Blue Jays. To date, those games against Toronto have been the worst baseball played by San Francisco. Second, the Giants were already down by six runs by the third inning.
The Giants effectively turned a laugher into a season highlight.
Pitcher Matt Cain struggled early, allowing three home runs in the first three innings. However, the right-hander settled in and retired 13 of his last 15 batters. Cain lasted nearly seven innings, as the Giants did not have anyone rested to insert as a long reliever
Cain's mastery and short-term memory erased what could have been a terrible outing. His teammates expressed their gratitude by beating the Rockies, 8-6, for their largest come-from-behind victory of the 2013 season thus far.
3. Angel Pagan's Walk-Off Inside-the-Park Home Run
For context, this has happened only 17 times in MLB history. Only 16 players before center fielder Angel Pagan had inside-the-park home runs as walk-offs winners. In baseball lore, that's rarer than witnessing a perfect game.
The 17th time happened at AT&T Park on May 24, 2013.
The victory was poetic justice for the Giants, who seemingly could not catch a break against the Colorado Rockies. By the sixth inning, they already faced a 4-0 deficit.
Brandon Belt was incorrectly called out at home in the seventh, and Marco Scutaro was blatantly safe moving from first to third in the eighth, but he was called out via a tag play, although replays clearly show the tag was missed. Manager Bruce Bochy was ejected after arguing the second call.
But the Giants rallied to tie the game before Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki homered off of Sergio Romo in the top of the 10th, seemingly sealing the Giants' fate.
Then it happened. With a runner on, and needing two runs to win, Pagan smashed what most expected to fall for a triple into the gap between right and center field. The ball took a few bounces away from right fielder Michael Cuddyer, giving the speedy Pagan just enough time to go the distance.
There were dozens of other highlights this season, reminding this writer how skilled this Giants team is. While they may be currently struggling, all is not lost as the season is merely approaching the midway point.
There's no reason to push the panic button yet. Players will return from injury, pitchers will fight through rough patches and unexpected role players will step up in equally unexpected ways.
The Giants will rebound and, in the process, will likely enjoy even more memorable moments this season.
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