The Juice: Pinch hitters to the rescue! Giants and Twins get game-winning hits off the bench

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

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It's not always the guy you expect to get the big hit when his teams needs it. Sometimes it's that other guy — the guy whose name you may not know, who might only get to bat a few times per week in odd situations. Such is the life of a pinch hitter.

Thursday, two pinch hitters came through big time, with ninth-inning hits that lifted their teams to victory. Let's have a closer look.

Giants 4, Nats 3: The San Francisco Giants were down 3-1 in the top of the ninth when pinch hitter Hector Sanchez came to the plate. There were two runners on base and Washington Nationals closer Rafael Soriano was on the rubber. This is the type of scenario in which the Giants, more and more of a lame duck World Series champ by the game, haven't been able to find the magic that fueled their postseason runs. But they did on Thursday.

Sanchez waited for a Soriano fast ball and knocked it over the fence in right field. Sergio Romo shut the door in the bottom half of the inning. The Giants got the win and prevented the Nats from pulling off a three-game sweep. A win for the Nats would have pulled them up to .500. But not on this day, not with Sanchez around.

''I know my job, like everybody,'' Sanchez said. ''I have to be ready for that situation. I have to come into the cage during the game and get ready.''

Twins 4, White Sox 3: The down-in-the-dumps Chicago White Sox looked to be getting the best of the Minnesota Twins on Thursday night — until things began to unravel. The White Sox were up 3-0 in the fifth inning, but the Twins scored one in their half of the fifth, another in the sixth and eventually tied the game on a Justin Morneau single in the eighth.

In the bottom of the ninth, with two runners on, Chris Herrmann got tapped to pinch hit for the Twins. He's a backup catcher who had only 71 at-bats this season coming into Thursday. He was so surprised to get the call he wasn't even ready. But Herrmann came up anyway and delivered what the Twins needed — a game-winning base hit.

''It's a moment I'm going to never forget and hopefully there will be more to come,'' Herrmann said.

On the other end of this thing, the White Sox are now 46-74, the second worst record in baseball, worse even than the Miami Marlins.


Mets 4, Padres 1: Rookie Zack Wheeler strikes out 12 for the Mets, who break a 1-1 tie on a two-run, eighth-inning Marlon Byrd double.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: That Joey Votto guy — he's pretty good, ya know — hits a go-ahead homer in the sixth for the Reds.

Rays 7, Mariners 1: Snakes in the clubhouse before every game!

Tigers 4, Royals 1: Anibal Sanchez cruises after giving up a first-inning run. Andy Dirks goes 4-for-4 and Prince Fielder hits his first homer in three weeks.

A's 5, Astros 0: Sonny Gray gets his first big league win for the A's, striking out nine Astros. This happened too.

Blue Jays 2, Red Sox 1: Mark Buehrle tops Jake Peavy in a clash of ex-White Sox pitchers.

Cardinals 6, Pirates 5: Cards get a Matt Holliday walk-off single in the 12th inning as these two rivals play another tight game.

Angels 8, Yankees 4: The Angels prevent a four-game sweep with the help of two Chris Nelson homers, including a grand slam.

Football season is here and the Bengals are beating up on the Packers ... oh, wait.

• Alex Cobb made his first start for the Rays since being hit in the head by a line drive two months ago. He pitched five innings and got the win.

• Zack Wheeler's 12 strikeouts in six innings made him only the third Mets pitcher to fan 12 in six innings or less. The other two? Nolan Ryan and Pedro Martinez.

• The Red Sox lost consecutive series for the first time since May 3-12.

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