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How Giants pulled off incredible comeback, which started long before Yastrzemski’s slam

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Remember the Steven Duggar home run? It arrived six innings before Mike Yastrzemski’s scene-stealer. Both splashed into the Cove, and having multiple wet dingers is rare in one game for the Giants.

How rare? The other times were May 10, 2000, and May 18, 2002. All four of those Splash Hits were provided by Barry Bonds.

The Giants don’t have a Bonds. As great as Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford have played, they do not have a superstar who carries them alone. What they possess is excellent talent at the top and complementary pieces all the way down, from Yastrzemski — who received MVP votes last year but has not been his full self this year — to Duggar, who has played important innings for the Giants for the first two and a half months.

It is hard to think of a better distilled example than Tuesday’s game of the secret to the season of the NL’s best team: never-ending contributions from players one through 40 on their roster.

“I think the thing that was most fun about today was it was really a full team effort,” Brandon Belt said after Giants 9, Diamondbacks 8 at Oracle Park on Tuesday. “It took every single one of us to go out there and grind our butts off to come out with this victory. We could almost sense it a little bit throughout the game. We never sensed we were out of it.”

They were down 7-0 before they took an at-bat in the second inning. They might have been the only ones with that sense, but it was not a wrong one.

It started with Duggar, who could be sent down again upon Alex Dickerson possibly returning Saturday. The lefty-hitting outfielder had gone 0-for-9 with eight strikeouts in Washington, but after his second-inning, two-run shot — off Alex Young, his first dinger against a southpaw this year — his OPS is up to .865, which is awfully hard to demote.

There was more damage done in the sixth, when Belt’s leadoff triple preceded Donovan Solano’s RBI single. Belt had been swooning before returning home, and Solano has too often been beguiled by breaking pitches since being activated from a hamstring strain. Players like LaMonte Wade Jr. and Wilmer Flores had filled in, and as the Plans A begin working, there are contributing pieces everywhere.

The Yastrzemski golfed grand slam — the first of his career — was the entrée the crowd awaited, but Curt Casali’s walk the underrated appetizer. Casali, the shutout whisperer, has helped the club defensively but had not recorded a multi-hit game until Monday. A day later, the Giants’ bench was so spent he was Gabe Kapler’s only choice as pinch-hitter with two on and two outs in the eighth.

The Diamondbacks turned to righty Humberto Castellanos against righty Casali, who just needed to give Yastrzemski a chance.

“It’s a difficult matchup for a right-handed hitter coming off the bench to have a guy throwing from that arm angle,” Kapler said after Zack Littell and Sammy Long dug the Giants a hole in two rough innings. “So Curt going up there, prepared to see the ball deep and make good swing decisions was really important.”

He saw five pitches and trotted toward first. He did not have to run much harder after Yastrzemski admired the artwork he sent shooting across the San Francisco sky to give the Giants the lead.

“Yaz is gonna be Yaz,” Belt said of a player who was 4-for-16 since being activated off the IL. He had not been Yaz, which led to extra hitting work before the game and late magic during it.

And yet, if he can be Yaz, the Giants’ season can be truly special because of all the other contributors, including Tyler Rogers and Solano.

Rogers got the ninth, and the major league leader in groundball percentage added two more, one leading to a nice back-handed play from Solano to get Carson Kelly to start the inning.

“We’ve continued to say that Rog needs us to make plays behind him,” Kapler said of Rogers, who does not strike out many but induces so much weak contact heading south. “…To see Donovan go so hard to his right, get a great first step, get on the ground, and then get back up and throw a strike was pretty gratifying.”

It must have been horrifying for Arizona, who lost their 21st straight game on the road. It is a surreal situation for the Diamondbacks, who have found every way to lose.

“I don’t feel like we ever thought we were out of that game, and we could see multiple paths to getting back into it and winning it,” Kapler said of a team that has found every way to win.


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