The San Francisco Giants have turned late inning comebacks and walkoff victories into an art form.
On Saturday, they may have delivered their most creative masterpiece to date.
With the game tied at four in the tenth, Troy Tulowitzki gave the Colorado Rockies the lead with a long home run into the left field bleachers off Sergio Romo. I mean he crushed it, and he may have enjoyed it a little bit as he pointed into his own dugout all the way up the first base line.
Unfortunately for Tulo, though, he didn't get to enjoy it for very long.
In the bottom half, San Francisco turned things right around against Rafael Betancourt. It started with a leadoff walk to Brandon Crawford. Then Guillermo Quiroz was used to sacrifice him into scoring position, but that ended up not mattering a single bit. Switch-hitting Angel Pagan had bigger, much more spectacular plans than tying the game with a single.
Instead, Pagan wanted to make a little history, so that's what he did by smoking a ball off the right center field wall that could not have caromed any more perfectly for San Francisco had they drawn it up. Once it scooted past right fielder Michael Cuddyer and made it's way through AT&T Park's triple's alley, the roar of the crowd grew in anticipation. Crawford could have crawled home from second, they knew they'd at least drawn even. But what about Pagan? Would third base coach Tim Flannery dare send him?
As center fielder Dexter Fowler picked the ball up and fired to the cut off man, Flannery did indeed wave Pagan home. And he made it, relatively easily, beating Tulowitzki's relay throw with a dramatic head first slide to record the first walkoff inside-the-park home run in Major League Baseball since Rey Sanchez did it for Tampa Bay back in 2004.
Their opponents that day?
You guessed it. The Colorado Rockies. It came off reliever Shawn Chacon and it happened in the tenth inning, just like Pagan's.
I'm out of breath writing about it. Now imagine what it was like watching it live, especially at AT&T Park, or how it felt to be Pagan as he made that 360 foot trek. Not that he's completely unfamiliar to it. Overall that's the third inside-the-parker of his career, but none have come in a situation like that.
Just a remarkable finish, but it wouldn't have been possible had the Giants not rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the sixth. The Giants began their climb back by scoring three in that frame. They then evened the score in the seventh on Andres Torres' RBI double to left, and appeared to have taken the lead one batter later when Brandon Belt attempted to score from third base on Brandon Crawford's grounder to second baseman D.J. LeMahieu. Home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez incorrectly disagreed, ruling Belt out despite the fact that his foot clearly got in before the tag.
That was the first big break the Rockies would catch. One inning later, Marco Scutaro was called out at third — again by Marquez on an umpire rotation — trying to advance on Pablo Sandoval's single to right. That could have proven to be the winning rally as well, but San Francisco didn't flinch (despite losing manager Bruce Bochy to an ejection) and just kept on swinging until their final out. Hey, it's worked for them for going on four years. No sense stopping now.