Really, we should be immune to the San Francisco Giants’ flair for the dramatic. But then they do something we just didn’t see coming.
Duane Kuiper said it best: “You think you know, but you just don’t know.”
After Hunter Pence struck out to open the bottom of the 10th inning, manager Bruce Bochy sent Guillermo Quiroz to the play to face Brandon League. Quiroz was the Giants’ last available position player on the bench.
After loading the bases with one out in the ninth and failing to score with their best hitter at the plate — Buster Posey grounded into a double play — it didn’t look promising in the 10th with one out and Quiroz at the plate.
Then the reserve catcher who only had eight plate appearances so far this season served a League pitch into the left-field bleachers for the second game-winning home run in as many nights.
It was only Quiroz’s third career home run in 110 big-league games spanning over nine seasons from 2004-2013. He hadn’t homered in a big-league game since 2008.
It was the Giants’ fifth consecutive victory — including the last four in which the Giants hit a go-ahead home run in the eighth inning or later:
- Tuesday, Pablo Sandoval, two-run HR, 9th inning vs. Arizona
- Wednesday, Belt, three-run HR, 8th inning vs. Arizona
- Friday, Buster Posey, solo HR, 9th inning vs. LA Dodgers
- Saturday, Guillermo Quiroz, solo HR, 10th inning vs. LA Dodgers
OTHER WILD NOTES FROM SATURDAY
- The Giants looked as if they were headed to an easy win as they took a 5-0 lead after three innings thanks to Ryan Vogelsong’s first start of the season in which he opened with three scoreless innings. After the Dodgers scored a run in the fourth, the Giants responded to take a 6-1. Then the Dodgers tallied for seven runs in the fifth.
- As bad a seven-run inning looks, Vogelsong did not get help from his defense. Shortstop Brandon Crawford double-clutched on a potential double-play ball, resulting in only one out. If the Giants turn two there, the Dodgers likely score only one run that inning.
- With the seven-run fifth on Saturday, it means the Giants have surrendered at five-run inning (Rockies), six-run inning (Padres), seven-run inning (Dodgers), eight-run inning (Brewers) and nine-run inning (Cardinals) this season.
Guillermo Quiroz may have locked down the final spot on the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster with one swing Saturday.
Quiroz hammered a three-run home run off Bartolo Colon in the seventh inning, accounting for all of the Giants’ run in a 4-3 loss to the A’s in the preseason finale.
Or the decision could have been made before Quiroz came to the plate on Saturday.
The Giants made their final roster moves before Monday’s season opener by purchasing the contract of Quiroz and adding him to the 40-man roster. Outfielder Cole Gillespie, in the mix as a fifth outfielder, was sent to Minor League camp. He’ll likely open the season in Triple-A Fresno.
With Quiroz on the roster, the Giants could use Hector Sanchez as a pinch-hitter. Sanchez is a switch hitter, which gives the Giants more options late in a game.
“He has a good, adjustable bat from both sides of the plate,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said of Sanchez.
Sanchez battled a sore shoulder this spring. But he caught back-to-back games this weekend in minor league camp in Arizona, and Evans said he looks pretty good.
Still, the very fact that Sanchez was left in Arizona while the rest of the Giants came north shows that the Giants had — and may still have — concerns about Sanchez’s healthy. It seems evident that when Buster Posey gets a day off in the season’s early going, it will be Quiroz — not Sanchez — behind the plate. This will give Sanchez extra time to build strength in the shoulder so it doesn’t act up again.
The 31-year-old Quiroz, who batted .282 this spring, has played in 103 big-league games over eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.
Not adding Gillespie means the Giants will open the season with four pure outfielders. But the ability of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres to play all three outfield positions gives the Giants some flexibility. And the fact that all four outfielders are solid defenders, there won’t be any need to late-inning defensive replacements. Also, Brandon Belt remains an option in the outfield, as well as Joaquin Arias.
The final roster decision focused on Pablo Sandoval, who left Friday’s game with the A’s early after feeling some discomfort in his troublesome elbow.
Sandoval told manager Bruce Bochy that he was better Saturday and wanted to play. The Giants held him out as a precaution. Sandoval played catch before Saturday’s game, and will work out again Sunday before the team flies to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, just to make sure everything’s working right.
Here is the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster for 2013
Projected Monday lineup:
- CF Angel Pagan
- 2B Marco Scutaro
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- C Buster Posey
- RF Hunter Pence
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Andres Torres
- SS Brandon Crawford
- RHP Matt Cain
Other starting pitchers: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Tim Lincecum, LH Barry Zito, RH Ryan Vogelsong.
Bullpen: RH Sergio Romo, LH Jeremy Affeldt, LH Javier Lopez, LH Jose Mijares, RH Santiago Casilla, RH George Kontos, RH Chad Gaudin
Bench: C Hector Sanchez, C Guillermo Quiroz, IF Nick Noonan, IF Joaquin Arias, OF Gregor Blanco