They lived by the homer until they nearly died by the homer. But because the Giants were still breathing, they kept right on homering to find new life.
A third home run from Mike Yastrzemski – who had never hit even two in a game – in the 11th gave the Giants possibly their wildest victory of the season, 10-9 over the Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday.
The Giants wasted a 7-2, eighth-inning lead before blowing a 9-7, 10th-inning lead. When the dust had finally settled in the hot Arizona air, there were 12 homers in all — this was baseball in 2019 — but the Giants’ six beat the Diamondbacks’ six.
Yastrzemski’s go-ahead shot was a 438-foot blast off righty Yoan Lopez, the last laugh in a game that had become hilarious.
It had seemed Kevin Pillar and his pair of home runs would be the hero of the night, as his 17th dinger of the season, in the 10th off Arizona righty Yoshihisa Hirano, put the Giants ahead by two.
But Will Smith became the second crucial bullpen piece to blow it in the bottom of the inning, allowing Wilmer Flores’ second homer of the night and a first from Nick Ahmed to tie it up. Boy, did this game get weird.
The Giants (62-61) eventually won their fifth out of six and moved back above .500, just 2 ½ games out of the second NL wild card. In some thanks to Smith, who threw 35 pitches and got the first two outs of the 11th. In large thanks to Trevor Gott, who earned the first save of his career by getting the final out, inducing a ground ball before a flyball could turn into a homer. And no thanks to Tony Watson, who had the first meltdown.
The eighth started innocently enough, with Watson, handed a five-run lead, surrendering a solo shot to Eduardo Escobar. Then another from Flores. Watson allowed two more to reach base while recording a single out, the lefty not looking right recently.
Sam Coonrod entered and got a second out before Adam Jones launched a three-run shot, tying the game with the third homer of the frame.
For so long, it didn’t seem as if any drama would be needed. The Giants were enjoying the Arizona heat after shaking up the lineup, Yastrzemski bumped to leadoff for just the third time of the season and Brandon Belt installed at No. 7.
Don’t expect another shake-up soon.
Both homered – Yastrzemski becoming the first Giant to hit three since Jarrett Parker in 2015 – as the normally powerless Giants needed the extra pop on a Jeff Samardzija night, one of two rotation fixtures the Giants can rely upon. It was just enough.
Samardzija was not quite as dominant as he has been over the past six weeks, but he didn’t need to be. He didn’t have the distance – he lasted 5 1/3 innings – but kept the Giants in it, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks.
In nine starts since July 1, Samardzija has a 2.09 ERA, lowering his season mark from 4.52 to 3.54. The Giants have won seven of those games. Combine that with Madison Bumgarner starts – San Francisco has won nine of his past 10 – and the Giants have a deadly top two. If only they can find a third. No. 5 prospect Logan Webb, who made just one start at Triple-A Sacramento, will get the ball Saturday, Bruce Bochy announced before the game.
This one started ominously, with Ketel Marte, the first Arizona batter of the day, homering and three of the first four Diamondbacks hitters getting hit. Samardzija had allowed two hits in eight innings in his previous start. But he settled down and got 12 straight outs from the second inning through the sixth.
Offensively, the Giants put up crooked numbers in the third and fourth — Belt, Yastrzemski and Pillar homers — to take a lead and then get separation. Which they would need.