San Francisco Giants 2011: Nate Schierholtz's Top 5 Clutch Moments
The San Francisco Giants have turned in two of the more exciting months in recent baseball memory.
With eight walk-off wins and even more come-from-behind, late-inning victories, the Giants appear hell-bent on living up to their "torture" motto.
At risk of not even making the team out of spring training, outfielder Nate Schierholtz has found his groove. He has taken it upon himself to win games for the Giants on his own, providing All-Star defense in right field and clutch hits in late-game situations.
Here are Nate's top five clutch moments of 2011.
5. May 22nd: Two-Run Homer Ties Game vs. A's
After winning the first two games of the rivalry series, the finale looked out of hand.
The A's had extended their lead to two in the eighth inning and the Giants hadn't been able to muster much offense off of Gio Gonzalez.
With one out and Miguel Tejada on base, Schierholtz came up to bat.
He uppercut a low ball right down the right field line into the arcade. Suddenly, the game was tied.
Three innings later, Manny Burriss knocked in good friend Darren Ford to beat the A's in 11.
4. June 6th: Giants Top Nationals in 13
Down 4-0 in the seventh, the Giants avoided a shutout with an Aaron Rowand home run to left field.
Then in the eighth, the bats sprang to life. Freddy Sanchez singled with one out and advanced to third on a Cody Ross double. Aubrey Huff knocked them both in with a single to right.
Then Rowand struck out and Crawford got a two-out single to put runners on first and second.
The stage was set for Nate Schierholtz, who entered as a pinch-hitter for Eli Whiteside.
After fouling off a couple of pitches, Schierholtz slapped a ball off the end of the bat just over the outstretched arm of Washington shortstop Ian Desmond that landed safely in left field. Huff scored to tie the game.
Schierholtz did not remain in the game, but the Giants were able to win in the bottom of the 13th on a Freddy Sanchez liner that scored Chris Stewart from third.
3. June 1st: Schierholtz Comes Through Twice Against the Cards
After a thrilling game that included several ties and lead changes, the Giants found themselves down to their final out with nobody on base.
Aubrey Huff walked on four pitches and was pinch-run for by Manny Burriss, who stole second on a 2-2 count.
Schierholtz singled to center on the very next pitch, bringing in Burriss and tying the game at five.
San Francisco elected to keep Schierholtz in the game this time, and it paid off.
With one out in the 11th, Schierholtz came through yet again with a single that brought in Freddy Sanchez for the go-ahead run. He scored later on a Brandon Crawford single and the Giants won 7-5.
2. May 19th: Schierholtz Makes Diving Catch to Save Game
Madison Bumgarner was one out away from a complete-game shutout.
But with two outs in the ninth, he allowed a Rod Barajas single and a Jerry Sands double, bringing the score to 3-1.
Manager Bruce Bochy called on Brian Wilson, who naturally walked the bases loaded before working Jamie Carroll to a 2-2 count.
On the fifth pitch Carroll hit a liner to right field that Schierholtz laid out for and snagged to end the game.
If Schierholtz missed that ball, it rolls to the fence and the Dodgers likely clear the bases and win the game. But his gutsy play saved the game and secured the sweep.
1. May 6th: Giants Celebrate Willie Mays' 80th Birthday with a Walk-off Win
Down two runs in the eighth, Schierholtz came up with runners on second and third and two out against Colorado pitcher Rafael Betancourt.
After a couple of foul balls, Schierholtz lined one down the left field line to bring both runners home and tie the game at three.
An inning later, Sanchez singled home Cody Ross to beat the Rockies on Willie Mays' 80th birthday.