Giants 2020: 40 Moments I'll Remember
(originally written 1/21/21)
40. Dickerson's side wall catch, 7/23 @ LAD
The Giants were clobbered by the Dodgers in their 2020 opener, but not all was glum. LF Alex Dickerson secured the last out of the 1st inning by running down a Cody Bellinger foul ball down the LF line, slamming ribs-first into the wall as he did so.
39. Ruf's PH HR in 7th holds up comeback, 9/8 vs SEA
The Giants fell behind visiting Seattle 5-1 in the 3rd, but by the 7th the game was tied at five. Next, OF Darin Ruf came off the bench and unloaded on a 1-1 changeup from M's RP Anthony Misiewich. The home run put SF up 6-5, a score which held up.
38. Yaz' dive in 2nd saves two runs, 8/18 @ LAA
With San Francisco holding the early two-run lead, the Angels attempted to rally in the 2nd. With two RISP and two outs, Angels IF David Fletcher inside-outed one to right field. Saving the day was RF Mike Yastrzemski, who laid out for the grab—stranding those runners.
37. Ruf's tying hit in 9th plus Crawford's winning hit in 10th, 8/11 @ HOU
After falling behind 6-2 to the tough Houston Astros, San Francisco executed a comeback. Darin Ruf's RBI single knotted the score at 6 in the 9th, then Brandon Crawford singled home Wilmer Flores with the winning run in the 10th (off Astros RP Cy Sneed).
36. Yaz' bounce-splash HR in 3rd, 7/29 vs SD
Splash shots will always make this list, even when they bounce into the drink. In the 3rd inning of a close game, Mike Yastrzemski got a hold of SP Chris Paddack's changeup and blasted it off a pillar and into McCovey Cove.
35. Tyler Anderson, Giants win 10-1, 9/9 vs SEA
It was one of the Giants' best offensive performances of the season. Mike Yastrzemski opened the scoring with a three-run homer in the 3rd; SF would also drop three-spots in the 5th and 6th innings in support of SP Tyler Anderson, who went six innings, struck out four, and allowed just three hits and a walk.
34. Yaz' cove shot in 4th, 9/25 vs SD
In this one, the Giants jumped all over Padres SP Chris Paddack in the 4th, and Mike Yastrzemski—freshly returned from injury—deposited one of Paddack's offerings into McCovey Cove for the second time in 2020. (This one didn't bounce in, however.) The blast put SF up 5-1 and knocked Paddack from the game.
33. Yaz' birthday HR, Dickerson's three-run shot break tie in 7th, 8/23 vs ARI
Tied 1-1 in the B6th, birthday boy Mike Yastrzemski, now 30, connected off D'Backs SP Luke Weaver to snap the tie. One inning later, Alex Dickerson added a blast over the bricks in RF with two men on against RP Hector Rondon, cementing the three-game sweep.
32. Belt's go-ahead, three-run HR in 4th, 8/5 @ COL
For the second straight night, the Giants fell behind early to the Rockies. But THIS time Brandon Belt responded with his first home run of 2020, a three-run blast that put the Giants ahead to stay.
31. Dubon's three-run, go-ahead HR in 7th, 8/6 @ COL
Rockies SP Kyle Freeland had been in control of the Giants lineup, holding them to five hits in the first 6.2 innings. Then he allowed back-to-back singles by Pablo Sandoval and Chadwick Tromp, bringing Mauricio Dubon to the dish. Dubon smoked a first-pitch fastball over and out to LCF, putting SF up 3-1. (Nevermind what happened in the B7th. Just nevermind.)
30. Ruf's first MLB hit in nearly four years, 7/25 @ LAD
On 10/1/16, Darin Ruf of the Phillies pinch-hit a home run against the Mets. For a long time, it seemed to be his final major league hit (if so, what a way to go out, right?) as his career took off in the Korean League. But the Giants brought him back stateside for 2020, and watched him single off Alex Wood of the Dodgers in his first start for the team. That represented Ruf's first big league hit in just under 46 months.
29. Baragar escapes Cueto's jam in 6th, 8/19 vs LAA
On this day, Johnny Cueto was strong through a dangerous Angels lineup, but he, and reliever Andrew Suarez, ran into serious trouble in the 6th as Los Angeles scored twice and sent slugger Justin Upton up with the bases loaded. But rookie lefty Caleb Baragar was able to escape further damage by striking Upton out to end the inning. In the end, Cueto picked up his second win of 2020.
28. SF pounds Luzardo, 8/14 vs OAK
A's SP Jesus Luzardo is talented, of that there is no doubt. But he is also somewhat overhyped, so in a way the Giants did him a favor by knocking him around on this day—nobody likes a swelled head, right? Evan Longoria and Hunter Pence homered off the kid, who surrendered nine hits and six runs in 3.1 innings (although the A's got the last laugh...boo.)
27. Solano's huge day (three 2B, 1B, game-tying SF in 8th), 7/30 vs SD
All Donovan Solano did upon joining the Giants in 2019 was rake. It seemed flukish coming from an over-30 journeyman, but Solano did everything he could in 2020 to prove he wasn't a fluke. Perhaps his best all-round game was 7/30 against the Padres; Solano stroked four hits, including three doubles, and sac flied home the tying run in the 8th. This performance would rank higher if it hadn't ended in an ugly loss.
26. Watson holds off SD rally in 7th, 9/25 vs SD
During the season's final weekend, the star-studded Padres were charging toward the postseason while the scrappy Giants were fighting like hell to sneak in. On 9/25 (Game 1), San Francisco entered the 7th and final inning ahead 5-1, but San Diego struck fast against SP Tyler Anderson and his reliever, Tony Watson, who committed a costly throwing error to aid SD's three-run rally. With no real better option to turn to, manager Gabe Kapler stuck with the former closer Watson, who battled and finally got three flyouts to end the tense affair.
25. Flores' awkward diving catch starts DP, 7/25 @LAD
Playing his third game as a Giant, IF Wilmer Flores showed his defensive skillz in the 3rd. He essentially reversed direction and dove to snag Corey Seager's liner to short RF, then tossed to 2B to erase Dodger runner Justin Turner and end the inning.
24. SF revenge 14-2 win after consecutive 6-0 losses, 9/20 @ OAK
Oakland was a nightmare for the Giants in 2020, breaking their hearts with late comebacks in August, then shutting them out in consecutive games in September. Finally, after five straight losses to the Athletics, the Giants exacted revenge with a firm beatdown of Oakland starter Mike Minor and several relievers. Darin Ruf and Brandon Crawford drove home four runs each, while Chadwick Tromp enjoyed a 3-for-5, three-RBI day. All three homered.
23. Gausman K's 11 in 5.2 innings, 8/15 vs OAK
No one knew for sure what to expect of Kevin Gausman in 2020; he'd been pretty good as an Orioles starter at one point but wasn't much in 2019. Gausman ended up being pretty darn good for SF, and among his best outings was his career-high 11-K outing against the tough Athletics. Gausman whiffed every A's starter except Tony Kemp at least once, departing after 5.2 innings and ultimately receiving no decision.
22. Webb goes seven strong, 8/21 vs ARI
Giants starters did not have particularly long leashes in 2020, but Gabe Kapler usually stuck with those who were pitching well. Logan Webb was pitching very well on 8/21 against the D'Backs and was allowed to go a career-high seven frames. The rookie earned the win by allowing two runs on five hits, striking out eight in a relatively efficient 102-pitch outing.
21. Panda rips a HIGH heater for a home run, 8/18 @ LAA
We've long known Pablo Sandoval has no real strike zone (though he's better than he once was). So it shouldn't have come as a shock when he offered at a Dylan Bundy fastball at neck-level. Nor should it have come as much of a shock when Sandoval hit the neck-high pitch out of the park. It was his first and only homer of the 2020 season, and his last home run as a Giant.
20. Belt reaches in 11th consecutive PA, 8/25 vs LAD
Brandon Belt was hot for much of the abbreviated 2020 campaign, and from 8/22-25, literally nobody could get him out! Against Arizona and the Dodgers, Belt went single, single, single, double, walk, double, homer, walk, double, single, homer in consecutive plate appearances before finally striking out against Dennis Santana. San Francisco won all three games covering Belt's surge (they didn't play 8/24). From MLB.com: no Giant had reached in 11 straight PA since Barry Bonds in 2006.
19. Smyly K's eight in relief, 9/10 @ SD
After missing all but the first day of August 2020, Drew Smyly returned in top form against San Diego. Covering the 4th thru 7th innings in relief of Trevor Cahill, Smyly punched out eight Padres, including the dangerous Wil Myers twice on a total of six pitches! The veteran lefty allowed two runs (one earned) in a stellar outing that saved the rest of the bullpen.
18. Ruf's go-ahead, three-run HR in 7th, 8/15 vs OAK
With the score tied 3-3 in the 7th against a tough Oakland squad, Darin Ruf got a hold of a Burch Smith heater and sent it over and out with two men on. The blast swung all the momentum San Francisco's way, though they ultimately lost. Note: This was also the Kevin Gausman 11-K game.
17. Belt's 2nd HR ties it in 9th off Jansen, 8/25 vs LAD
The last of Brandon Belt's 11 straight plate appearances reaching base was the most impactful. Facing dominant Dodgers CL Kenley Jansen in the 9th, with the Giants trailing 6-5, Belt crunched a low cutter deep and over the center field wall. The game-tying bomb (Belt's second of the night) set up a Giants win in extras.
16. Dubon's leaping CF catch in 2nd, 8/6 @ COL
At Coors Field, facing Giants starter Tyler Anderson, the dangerous Rockies slugger Matt Kemp drove one to the RCF warning track. Giants UT Mauricio Dubon, playing CF, went back, back, back and executed a well-timed leap just shy of the wall to rob Kemp of at least a double...not an easy play, especially for a non-regular outfielder.
15. Solano walk-off HR in 11th sinks LA, 8/25 vs LAD
We already catalogued Brandon Belt's tying homer in the 9th inning of this game...but it got better. Facing Dodgers RP Dennis Santana with one on in the 11th, Donovan Solano unloaded—home run, game over, walk it off! It was Solano's only hit in six at-bats that night, and ran the Giants' season-high win streak to seven games.
14. Slater's 2-HR day vs Dodgers, 8/8 @ LAD
Up and down since joining the Giants in 2017, Austin Slater enjoyed his best offensive performance in the major leagues against the Dodgers. He homered off future Hall-of-Famer Clayton Kershaw in the 3rd and 5th innings, powering a 5-4 Giants win.
13. Solano's three-run game-tying HR in 8th, 7/29 vs SD
It didn't look good for the Giants, who entered the late innings down to SD 6-2. But Alex Dickerson's solo shot in the 6th cut the deficit to three, then Donovan Solano—facing the tough Padres RP Craig Stammen—smashed one into the bleachers with two men on. Just like that, improbable tie score!
12. Slater's falling, twisting grab to rob Seager, 7/25 @ LAD
Catches don't have to always be smooth, they just have to be made. And on Opening Night, Austin Slater made the catch in LF of a deep drive off the bat of Dodgers SS Corey Seager. He went back and to the left before, at the last moment, lunging right to snag the ball as he hit the Dodger Stadium wall.
11. Cueto's five no-hit IP, 8/8 @ LAD
Johnny Cueto flirted with history on this night, holding the championship Dodgers lineup hitless (with one walk) through five innings and only losing the no-hitter when LF Hunter Pence lost Kike Hernandez's fly ball in the lights leading off the 6th. Though that inning soon went to pieces, Cueto still walked away with his first win of 2020.
10. Solano's 17-game hit streak, 7-25-8/15 vs MLB
Enough said, right? Solano had a hit in every game from 7/25 to 8/15, batting .439 with 15 RBI during the incredible run. The streak was snapped with an oh-fer during a blowout loss at Oakland on 8/16. (Below clip is from 8/1.)
9. Belt's hot streak, 8/16-9/8 vs MLB
Giants fans have waited and waited and waited for Brandon Belt to erupt, and in mid-2020 he did just that, slashing .468/.554/.919 between the dates listed above. In that stretch was a base-reaching streak of 11 straight PA, several key home runs, and a 14-7 record for the Giants! (Below clip is from 8/22.)
8. Longo's 300th HR, 8/21 vs ARI
Evan Longoria was once one of baseball's top slugging 3B, and he can still launch 'em if a pitcher isn't careful. For the 300th time in his 13-year career, Longoria cleared the fences. Arizona's Robbie Ray served up the milestone blast, which opened the scoring of an eventual 6-2 SF win.
7. Pence's three-run HR cuts it to 6-5, 8/11 @ HOU
Not a whole lot went right on the field for Hunter Pence in 2020, so it was more than a little stunning when he took Astros RP Blake Taylor over and out to right field with two on and two out in the 7th inning. Hope for a Giants comeback in this game looked bleak until Pence's blast—his first of two in 2020—cut their deficit to 6-5; San Francisco did eventually emerge victorious in extras.
6. Yaz' leaping catch at wall in 6th, 8/22 vs ARI
Mike Yastrzemski laid it all on the line in support of Tyler Anderson in the 6th inning. With a man on 1B, Arizona's Ketel Marte drove one that seemed destined to carom off the RF wall. Yaz never gave up on it and at the last second, he made a sensational leaping, crashing catch that might have saved a run.
5. Yaz' walk-off splash HR off Strahm caps comeback, 7/29 vs SD
In this one, the Giants fell behind 6-2, but clawed back and tied the game on home runs by Alex Dickerson and Donovan Solano. Capping the impressive comeback: Mike Yastrzemski's walk-off home run versus Padres lefty Matt Strahm that touched down in McCovey Cove! Final: Giants 7, Padres 6.
4. Bart debuts with hit, 8/20 vs LAA
The much-hyped young catcher Joey Bart finally arrived in MLB 8/20—and was promptly drilled in his 1st PA. But in his 4th PA of the night, facing Angels RP Julio Teheran, Bart doubled down the LF line for the first of what is expected to be many, many major league hits...though it may take a while for the next batch if Buster Posey returns healthy in 2021.
3. Tyler Anderson's CG, 8/22 vs ARI
This is not an era of starting pitchers going the distance, especially in San Francisco, so when first-year Giant Tyler Anderson was allowed to go all nine at Arizona, it really meant something. Anderson had it all working that night, holding the Snakes to a run on three hits, striking out four and throwing just 103 pitches in a 5-1 victory.
2. Dickerson's 480-foot HR, 9/1 @ COL
Obviously, when Rockies SP Jon Gray delivered his first-inning changeup to Alex Dickerson, he didn't expect it to soar 480 feet out of the ballpark, but that's precisely what happened. Dickerson's blast—a Giants Statcast era record—was just the beginning of a historic day for Dickerson; see Moment #1.
1. Dickerson's three HR and the final score, 9/1 @ COL
It was an epic offensive night for the Giants, even factoring in the Coors Field element. San Francisco scored in all but the 9th innings, plating 23 runners total (to the Rockies' five). And Alex Dickerson walloped three home runs with two doubles—one of which would have been a homer in literally any other ballpark. Dickerson, who became the 15th player with five XBH in a game, had support: teammates Donovan Solano and Brandon Crawford each had six RBI of their own!