SAN FRANCISCO – It was Opening Day across the league but something special happened at Oracle Park. The Miami Marlins tied the game top of the ninth and that sent the ballgame into extra innings. Austin Slater’s walk-off double lifted San Francisco over Miami for the 6-5 win on Opening Day.
“We didn’t play our best baseball game today,” Giants manager Gabe Kepler said. “There are a couple of moments that we would like to have back and at the same time I thought we had guys step up in some pretty big situations.”
San Francisco headed into the ninth stretch up 4-2. The bullpen was in control and the sellout crowd of 40,853 seemed pleased enough to start exiting the ball park. However, Giants pitcher Camilo Doval gave up a single to Joey Wendle to start the frame.
Miguel Rojas grounded into a force out and Wendle was out at second. Rojas advanced to second on a throwing error by second baseman Thairo Estrada. Up next, Jacob Stallings’ RBI single scored in Rojas to put the Marlins within one. Then Jazz Chisholm went yard to left field and put Miami up 5-4.
This was the first lead of the day for the Marlins and it came when many expected San Francisco to close out the game. Well, Estrada who led off the bottom of the ninth didn’t close it out but he kept the Giants alive for a little while longer. He hit a solo shot to left center field to tie the game 5-5 and send it to extra innings.
John Brebbia replaced Doval to start the tenth inning. Brebbia walked Jesus Sanchez, now remember the new MLB 2022 rule (a runner is placed at second base to start extra innings). Garrett Cooper is at second, so now you have two on with no outs. Jesus Aguilar flew out and Copper advanced to third.
Avisail Garcia reached first safely on a fielder’s choice and San Francisco put all their attention on Cooper who was waved in for the run at home. Third baseman Wilmer Flores and catcher Joey Bart both corned him for the out. Jose Alvarez replaced Brebbia and struck out the next two batters to end the frame.
While things were looking bright for the Giants, Brandon Belt who led off the bottom of the tenth, hit into a double play to clear the bases. But luckily Anthony Bender walked Darin Ruf to put one batter on. Then Slater doubled on a sharp line drive for the winning run.
“When you’re slow you have to at least look like you’re running fast,” said Ruf. “That’s the goal.”
Ruff was running slow but he had enough speed for the home plate umpire, Lance Barrett to call him safe for the win. Pandemonium erupted at Oracle once Ruf crossed home plate. Nothing was more pleasing on this day than a win to start the season. This was San Francisco’s first walk-off win on Opening Day since April 6, 1987 against the San Diego Padres.
“Never a doubt, Slater said on his teammate not being the fastest runner. “He unhitched the trailer and he got there.”
The Giants got a few home runs from Belt who went deep to right field in the eighth and Bart who hit a solo shot to left field in the fifth. In Bart’s second plate appearance, he went yard for his first-career home run to give San Francisco a 3-0 lead. Bart didn’t hit one homer in 2020 or last season.
“It was good to finally get it,” said Bart. “I feel like it’s been a long time coming. It was good to knock it out of the way and get the ball rolling.”
“It was fun,” Belt said. “It was fun to be back out there, you know and especially to get the win, makes it more fun.
We can’t hit home runs but we like to get people on base to keep the line moving. And that’s how we’re going to win over the course of an entire season.”
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