Giants' playoff push persists with two walk-offs in three days originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- The 127th pitch of the night by the Arizona Diamondbacks was a 93-mph fastball that curled around the outside corner of the plate. It was not a strike, missing by an inch or two, but as catcher Carson Kelly squeezed it and held his glove firmly in place, home plate umpire Cory Blaser took a big step back and came out of his crouch. For a fraction of a second, it looked like the Giants would add to a growing list of final-strike calls that have enraged them over the last three seasons.
But Thairo Estrada looked back at Blaser and saw he had fresh life. That's a theme for the Giants right now.
They are very much alive in the National League playoff race after winning five straight, including two on walk-off homers. Two days after Estrada walked off the Pittsburgh Pirates, Brandon Crawford hit a two-run shot to dead center to clinch a 2-1 win on a night the Giants were down to their final strike.
A couple minutes earlier, Crawford had been standing in the on-deck circle. He saw Blaser take a step back and feared the worst.
"It made me a little nervous," he said later, smiling.
A month ago, perhaps the Giants would have ended the night with different kinds of yells coming from their dugout and clubhouse. But right now they're rolling, and they're just 4 1/2 back of the final postseason spot.
"To keep the streak alive in that fashion is a lot of fun," right-hander Jakob Junis said. "Hopefully we can keep the momentum going the rest of the series."
Junis was the unsung hero on this night, just about keeping pace with Merrill Kelly, who turns into the best pitcher in baseball when he sees orange and black in the other dugout. For the fourth time in six weeks, Kelly dominated the Giants, but Junis allowed just one run in seven innings in what was easily his best start since coming off the IL.
Kelly gave way to the bullpen in the eighth. The Diamondbacks don't have much stability late in games, and it was Ian Kennedy who came on for the ninth. Mike Yastrzemski gave him a scare with a liner to the track in left-center, and then Estrada followed his close call with a triple off the bricks in right.
That set the stage for Crawford, who has had a down year at the plate but is as comfortable in the ninth as any player in the league. He has been in big spots for a decade, and the blast to center was his fourth walk-off homer in the big leagues and third walk-off hit this season.
"I knew I hit it pretty good. I thought it had a chance," he said. "The way [center fielder Alek Thomas] was going back on it, it looked like it was at least going to the wall, and then I saw it get over."
Crawford went through the second walk-off celebration in three days and then retreated to the clubhouse, where Logan Webb pulled out his phone. He showed Crawford a video -- tweeted by his wife, Jalynne -- of his four children celebrating at their home in Scottsdale.
"That's awesome," the shortstop said. "I'm glad she kept the kids up."