Panik lets Giants live to fight another day
Hopewell Junction native’s double in 13th denies Cubs’ bid to clinch Division Series
SAN FRANCISCO >> Sure is hard to send these San Francisco Giants home in October.
Joe Panik doubled off the right-center wall in the 13th inning to drive in Brandon Crawford, and the Giants outlasted the Chicago Cubs 6-5 on Monday night in Game 3 to extend their NL Division Series.
Boosted by Conor Gillaspie’s go-ahead triple in the eighth off Aroldis Chapman, the Giants rallied from a three-run deficit and won their 10th straight game when facing postseason elimination.
San Francisco overcame Kris Bryant’s two-run homer off closer Sergio Romo that tied it 5-all in the ninth, and an early three-run shot by pitcher Jake Arrieta against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner.
“Just because we’re down, we’re not out. If we’re breathing, we’re still fighting,” Panik said.
The wild-card Giants forced Game 4 at their raucous ballpark, postponing a potential Cubs clinch party in the visitors’ clubhouse.
Chicago lead the best-of-five playoff 2-1 going into Game 4 on Tuesday night.
“We played it hard, we played it right — and they beat us,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said.
Teammates piled on Panik, a Hopewell Junction native and John Jay High school graduate, in celebration after he came through on the 57th pitch from Mike Montgomery, beginning his fifth inning of relief. Crawford hit a leadoff double on an 0-2 curve, bringing Panik to the plate.
His big hit ended a 5-hour, 4-minute game that was only 29 minutes shy of the total time it took to play the first two series games combined last week at Wrigley Field.
“Somehow we always just
find a way with our backs up against the wall,” Panik said. “It’s always somebody.”
Gillaspie hit a two-run triple in the eighth and Crawford added an RBI single to give the Giants a 5-3 lead.
Rookie left-hander Ty Blach earned the win, escaping a 13th-inning jam when pinch-hitter David Ross bounced into a double play .
“There’s a sense of calmness,” Panik said. “It’s like we’ve been there before.”
Bryant’s tying drive hit the top of the left-field fence
and bounced into the seats, silencing the orange towelswirling sellout crowd. The slugger received a warm hug of congratulations in the dugout from Chapman, who had just given up the lead. On a night when the early focus was the marquee pitching matchup between Bumgarner and Arrieta, the bullpens decided this one hours later.
Arrieta’s three-run drive in the second held up most of the way. “The game had everything — pitching, timely hitting on both sides. It was just a fun game to be involved with,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Arrieta’s shot ended Bumgarner’s postseason scoreless streak at 24 innings.
The left-hander had also thrown 24 straight shutout innings with the Giants facing postseason elimination, a separate string that was snapped as well.
Buster Posey hit an RBI single for the Giants in the third, and Brandon Belt had a sacrifice fly in the fifth.
Chapman relieved with two on in the eighth, trying for the second six-out save of his career, and Gillaspie tripled to deep rightcenter to put San Francisco ahead 4-3. Starting at third base for a banged-up Eduardo Nunez, Gillaspie also hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning for all the runs in Bumgarner’s wildcard win over the Mets last Wednesday in New York.
In the bottom of the ninth, Albert Almora Jr. made a diving catch in deep right field on Posey’s sinking liner and doubled up Belt at first base for an inning-ending double play that kept the Cubs in it.
The Giants won the World Series in 2010, ‘12 and ‘14, and still believe they can get by Chicago and do it again given their remarkable track record with the season at stake. In 2012 against the Reds, San Francisco became the first team to come back from an 0-2 deficit and win a best-of-five series with three straight road victories. After that, the Giants came back from 3-1 down to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship
“I just think it’s part of our DNA,” Belt said. “We never think we’re out of it.”
CHAPMAN GIVES IT UP
Chapman entered in the eighth and struck out Hunter Pence with five consecutive pitches clocked at 101 or 102 mph. That brought up Gillaspie, who grounded out his first three times up. He fouled off the first offering before driving the ball beyond a diving Almora in right-center.
Gillaspie has knocked in five of San Francisco’s 11 runs this postseason.
“Give Gillaspie credit,” Maddon said. “He did it a
couple days ago. He got an elevated fastball and hit it to the far part of the ballpark. I think it surprised a lot of people.”
It was the 10th extra-base hit Chapman has allowed to a left-handed batter in his career — and the first triple.
The only Giants player with strong numbers (.455 average) against Arrieta was a late scratch. Left fielder Angel Pagan got pulled from the lineup about an hour before the first pitch because of back spasms. Pagan had a .455 average (5 for 11) against Arrieta with a double and two strikeouts. Gregor Blanco replaced him.