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Mike Yastrzemski rescues Giants with gutsy late-inning play

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Cueto was remarkable. Mauricio Dubon homered.

On a day that felt like a peek toward 2020, the biggest find of 2019 made the difference.

Mike Yastrzemski’s instincts carried him home and lifted the Giants to a 2-1 victory over the Marlins on Sunday at Oracle Park in front of 39,663.

The Giants finished the homestand 2-4, two shy of the magic number for Bruce Bochy (1,998-2,022). Again they could not hit, finishing with five runs in three games against the Marlins, baseball’s worst team. They struck out nine times in five innings against Miami starter Elieser Hernandez, who set a career best. But they did escape with a series victory thanks to good pitching and a Yastrzemski who’s not afraid of pain.

With one out in the eighth in a 1-1 game, Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt hit back-to-back singles, and both moved over on a wild pitch. Evan Longoria walked to load the bases for Stephen Vogt, who struck out for the second out. With confidence dropping, Ryne Stanek bounced a pitch that Jorge Alfaro couldn’t quite corral, and Yastrzemski took off. Stanek landed on Yastrzemski in what must have been a painful play for a second straight game – he was hit in the foot Saturday – but the ball bounded away harmlessly as he slid in safely for the go-ahead run.

Yastrzemski will go into the Boston series bruised, but still on his feet for what should be a fun time.

Will Smith, pitching for the first time since Sept. 6 because of a back issue, pitched a scoreless ninth for the save.

Cueto was in control from the start, rarely overpowering the Marlins but never letting them get comfortable, either. He had some quick and some lengthy innings – he nearly didn’t escape the fourth – but was around the plate all game. He lasted five scoreless innings, making it 10 to begin the season for the Tommy John survivor.

He didn’t have a 1-2-3 inning until his last one, which he nearly didn’t make it to. He had a 31-pitch fourth, which began with a Starlin Castro single and Neil Walker walk, but he got Alfaro to fly out before striking out Lewis Brinson and Magneuris Sierra – both on changeups, of course.

At 65 pitches entering the fifth, he needed a quick inning. And it took five pitches to get Joe Berti, the pitcher Hernandez and Miguel Rojas, leaving with a 1-0 lead.

The Marlins’ run was a strange one. With two outs in the seventh, Sierra bunted a ball off Birch Smith about 10 feet and wound up on third. Evan Longoria fielded it and hurried to first, throwing up the line, which Sierra happened to be blocking as he neared the bag. The ball kept traveling to the bullpen mounds, Belt’s glove went flying as he collided with Sierra, and the speedy Sierra hustled made it two more bases. Berti then sent a single to left field, which visibly bothered Longoria, as the Marlins tied it, 1-1.

The Giants got their first run in the third, when Dubon rocked his first homer at Oracle Park and third of his career. Rounding third, he flashed a grin, and he’s made himself a fan favorite in just 16 games with San Francisco.

For a second straight day, Chris Shaw was announced as a pinch-hitter. For a second straight day, he didn’t get an at-bat, pulled back in place of Donovan Solano in the eighth after the Marlins flipped to lefty Jarlin Garcia. Solano flew out. Bochy did say before the game he expected Shaw – who went to Boston College – to see a bit of time at Fenway Park.

On a day that featured Cueto, Yastrzemski and Dubon moments, the biggest cheer may have come in the sixth inning, when Belt laid down a bunt down the third-base line to beat the shift. Quietly, Belt has begun, again, to show signs he isn’t finished. In his past seven games, the first baseman is 11-for-26 (.423).


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