Giants' rare defensive display vs. Padres helps stoke playoff hopes

·3 min read

Giants' defensive display vs. Padres reignites playoff hopes originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN DIEGO -- Gabe Kapler said the words, but for a second, it was almost like he didn't quite know how to finish the sentence. He paused and trailed off, looking up at reporters for the next question. It was hard to blame him for not knowing where to go next.

"We won tonight's game with some defense," he had said. That is not a sentence he has said often, if ever, this season.

The Giants didn't just win a 1-0 game because of their defense. They might have partially saved their season. This series at Petco Park comes with two months left, but the Giants all of a sudden find themselves chasing the rebuilt Padres for the third and final wild-card spot.

A loss would have dropped the Giants 7 1/2 games out and further behind the Cardinals, Phillies and Brewers. But the win, built on strong pitching and the most important defensive play of the year, got them to within 5 1/2 games of a team that has a history of second-half collapses and has lost five straight.

The Giants have won three straight, they're just about fully healthy and they're ready to keep making up ground one day at a time.

"Give them hell, that's the way I'm looking at it," catcher Joey Bart said. "However many games we are back, so what. Let's keep chipping away at it and make it interesting and have fun with it."

Bart was right in the middle of the play, a relay from Luis González to Brandon Crawford to the plate. Every part of it had to be perfect. Brandon Drury was on first when Ha-Seong Kim lined a double into the corner with the Giants nursing a 1-0 lead, but González got the ball in quickly and Crawford spun and uncorked an 88 mph throw to the plate. Bart snagged the short hop and put down a nifty tag.

Home plate umpire David Rackley originally called Drury safe, but Bart pointed to the dugout right away. With every replay on the massive scoreboard at Petco Park, the sellout crowd of 40,686 cheered. Bart and Crawford both felt Drury would be ruled safe.

"I thought it was going to be too close to overturn. [That] was kind of my gut," Bart said. "As I sat out there, I noticed it was taking a lot longer than usual. That usually means that they're making some kind of decision. Usually when they get it done really soon, the call is confirmed. It was a fun play and definitely, definitely worked out in our favor."

When the call was overturned, boos drowned out most of the announcement. Some items were thrown on the field and play had to be stopped, but that was just a speed bump for the Giants, who kept the shutout going from there. Afterward, they were eager to share credit.

"Joey made one of the best picks and tags I've seen," Crawford said.

"When Craw gets the ball in his hand, we have a chance," Bart said.

That has been the case for a decade, and the Giants certainly benefited from having their best defensive player back out there after time off to let his knee heal. They will try to chip away with pitching and solid defense, and on this night Alex Wood led the way, with Camilo Doval blowing away the heart of the lineup in the ninth.

RELATED: Why Soto trade talks were so disappointing for Giants, Zaidi

It's a recipe for success and one Crawford is very familiar with. That throwing arm once helped the Giants win a title, scaring the Kansas City Royals in the biggest moment of a season. As he stood in a loud clubhouse, Crawford was asked if he spent any time late Monday night thinking about Alex Gordon. He shook his head, but said he understood why so many others might have as they watched the throw to Bart.

"That'll probably happen the rest of my career," he said, smiling.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast