What we learned as Giants beat Red Sox in walk-off fashion again

What we learned as Giants beat Red Sox in walk-off fashion again originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants and Boston Red Sox don’t play often, but the scouting for this series probably had both sides feeling like they were in the Spider-Man meme.

The franchises operate the same way, which is no surprise given that Red Sox executive Chaim Bloom, then with the Tampa Bay Rays, was the runner-up when the Giants hired Farhan Zaidi in 2018. On Sunday, both started openers and saved some big bats for the middle innings. Both teams ran out of position players by the time the game hit extra innings, and both also ran themselves out of rallies.

The Giants managed to do it all a little bit better.

In his return to the big leagues, Tristan Beck twice stranded the runner on second in extra innings. After they left the bases loaded in the 10th, the Giants won it 4-3 on Joc Pederson’s single in the 11th.

They once again loaded the bases on a hit-by-pitch and bunt from Brandon Crawford that nobody could pick up. Pederson smoked a pitch from Mauricio Llovera, who was traded by the Giants last week, into right to pick up a second straight walk-off win.

The Giants again wasted some good opportunities to jump way out ahead, but they took a 2-0 lead into the late innings. A couple of familiar faces quickly swung the game.

Former Giant Adam Duvall ended Ross Stripling’s strong day with a solo homer to lead off the seventh. An inning later, longtime Dodger Justin Turner hit a two-run shot off Tyler Rogers.

The Giants struck right back, getting an infield single from Michael Conforto and a hard double to left from Luis Matos that put two in scoring position. Conforto scored on Patrick Bailey’s grounder to first that was hit too slowly for a play at the plate, tying the game.

San Francisco (58-48) gained one game in the standings on the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers (59-45), who lost 9-0 to the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday. The Giants now are two games back of the Dodgers in the NL West and own the NL’s top wild-card spot.

Here are three observations from the Giants’ walk-off win:

New Feature

Before Sunday’s game, manager Gabe Kapler said he wanted to refer to his “bulk innings guys” as “featured guys” from now on. The Giants probably won’t be using that on marketing campaigns anytime soon, but the featured guys were certainly effective over the weekend.

Stripling and Sean Manaea combined to throw nine relief innings against Boston, allowing just one earned on six hits. Most importantly, they didn’t issue any walks and struck out eight.

The openers were just as effective. Ryan Walker and Scott Alexander combined for 4 1/3 shutout innings over the weekend.

Flo Show

Where would the Giants be without Wilmer Flores?

Flores provided most of the power on the last road trip and hasn’t slowed down since the Giants returned home. He had three hits on Saturday, and he lined a single the other way in the fifth inning Sunday to bring Casey Schmitt home and pad the lead.

Flores has reached base safely in 13 consecutive games and 20 of his last 21. He entered Sunday’s game ranked second in the Majors in July average, and the timing couldn’t be better. The offense desperately needs him right now, especially with LaMonte Wade Jr. dealing with back tightness.

Decision Time

In his second at-bat, Michael Conforto hit a ball that traveled one foot. It was picked up by Red Sox catcher Jorge Alfaro, who threw Conforto out at first. One of the softest batted balls of Conforto’s season was pretty meaningful, though.

That was the outfielder’s 350th plate appearance of the season, which means he officially has the right to opt out of his contract this winter. Conforto signed a two-year, $36 million deal in January and now will hold an $18 million player option for the 2024 season.

The first year in orange and black hasn’t gone as he hoped — Conforto has a .731 OPS through 90 games — but he’s only 30 and it’s not a deep free agent class, so it seems likely that he could pursue another multi-year deal if he opts out. Carlos Rodón had a similar contract last season, although that one was a much easier decision for the player.

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