New Month, New Walkoff: Panik’s Pinch Hit Sends Giants Home In 3-2 Win

The San Francisco Giants started the first day of their homestand with a walkoff, as Joe Panik sent San Francisco home happy with a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night.

It started off quite efficiently, as Nori Aoki doubled to center field, then advanced to second on an Matt Duffy ground out. Angel Pagan then hit a sacrifice fly out to center to give San Francisco an early lead that lasted for the next six innings.

Chris Heston returned to AT&T Park on Orange Friday and kept the Angels scoreless through six innings. In the seventh, a leadoff single started things off for Anaheim, but a questionable call at second gave the Giants the break they needed. With Kole Calhoun (who made an excellent diving catch in the fifth) at first, David Freese hit a grounder off the glove of Casey McGehee, and Brandon Crawford grabbed the ricochet and threw a dart to second base. Calhoun was called out, and while replays seemed to show the Angels’ right fielder sliding in just before the ball reached Matt Duffy’s glove, the call was upheld and the Angels had just a runner on first with one out.

From there, they were able to string together two more hits to score just one run, thanks to the earlier out, and knock Heston out of the game. Jean Machi came in with one out and runners on first and third, and promptly retired Chris Iannetta and C.J. Wilson to get out of the inning.

“He’s been really clutch for us,” said Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy. “You lose Cain, you lose Peavy, you hope someone steps up, and he’s done more than that.”

In the bottom of the seventh, San Francisco quickly retook the lead after a single to Angel Pagan. A passed ball moved him to second, then Andrew Susac knocked him in with a single to right.

Once again, the Angels came back in the next frame after several San Francisco miscues. A Matt Duffy error allowed Erick Aybar to reach first, then Sergio Romo allowed a single to Johnny Giavotella before striking out Mike Trout. From there, Bochy brought in Jeremy Affeldt, who hit Kole Calhoun to load the bases with one out. Santiago Casilla came in as the third reliever of the inning, and gave up a Freese sacrifice fly out to center. Pagan couldn’t get a grip on the ball, and his double clutch gave Aybar just enough time to score and tie the game.

In a familiar fashion, it came down to the bottom of the ninth, as Buster Posey led off with an infield hit, beating the throw to first. While his wheels got him on base, Gregor Blanco took over on the base paths, as Andrew Susac drew a walk on a Ball Four the pegged home plate umpire Bill Miller directly in the kneecap, sending him to the ground.

“It sounded like wood, when it hit, I’m not sure where it hit, but I think he squared him up pretty good,” said Susac.

After Joe Smith intentionally walked Brandon Crawford, it was Joe Panik again at the plate in the walkoff situation. With two outs and the bases loaded, Panik sent a sharp hit into the outfield to send Blanco and the rest of San Francisco home. It was Panik’s first walkoff hit and his second overall, after his sacrifice fly scored the winning run over the Los Angeles Dodgers last week.

With Joe, it’s a simple swing, short, and he smoked it,” said Bochy. “It’s a good thing he ended the game, because I used all my set-up guys trying to end it.”

“You got to enjoy it, with the game on the line like that. Chance to win it for your team?” said Panik. “Pretty sure you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t dream of that spot.”

Tomorrow the Giants return to AT&T Park for Game 2 of this interleague series, as Tim Hudson makes his fifth start of the season and looks to carry over his solid effort in Colorado, where he allowed three runs over seven innings in San Francisco’s win over the Rockies. He will take on Hector Santiago, who allowed just one run but threw 109 pitches in his five and one-third innings in the Angels’ loss on Sunday.

First pitch at 1:05pm.

Other notes:

Hunter Pence was dressed for batting practice today, and began his new routine: 25 swings off the tee, 20 soft toss, and 15 live pitches. He didn’t take his first day lightly, and was swinging hard in his first day back, hitting shots and one into the bleachers, certainly with Head Athletic Trainer Dave Groeschner watching intently. Pence will continue this routine until Monday, when he is reevaluated.

Alex Rodriguez hit his 660th home run on Monday evening in the Yankees’ win in Boston, tying Willie Mays for the fourth most all-time. Mays, regarding the record, said “Milestones in baseball are meant to be broken and I wish [Rodriguez] continued success throughout the year.” Only Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), and Babe Ruth (714), have more.

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