SAN FRANCISCO — Derek Law isn’t sure what got into him when he ended the sixth inning with a strikeout of Dexter Fowler. He bolted off the mound and pumped his fist and screamed his way back to the dugout, adrenaline carrying him through one of the biggest moments of his life.
The feeling didn’t wear off after another scoreless inning of work, and when Law looked around a thundering stadium in the eighth, he wanted another piece of the action.
“I was talking to Steven (Okert) and I was like, man, these people all have these rally towels up. I wish I had a towel,” Law said. “I turned and this kid holds one up. I was like, Ohhhh man …”
Law spent the rest of his night as the most visible holder of an orange towel handed out to 40,000 fans. A Pittsburgh native, he has a couple of yellow “terrible towels” in his room back home. He knew what to do once the young man threw him an orange version, waving and whipping and trying to will the Giants to victory.
“I was just trying to rally the troops together,” he said. “I just kind of used it as good juju.”
Law’s work on the mound was just as positive. He pitched two hitless innings in relief of Madison Bumgarner, who had his shortest postseason start since the 2012 NLCS. Hunter Strickland struck out two in the eighth. Will Smith breezed through an extra inning, extending his scoreless streak to 19 consecutive games. Ty Blach pitched two shutout frames, earning his first postseason win.
Sergio Romo was in the middle of it all, and before Blach ran into trouble in the 13th, he was the only reliever to give up a hit. It was a big one, a two-run shot from Kris Bryant on a hanging slider.
“I was surprised it went out,” Romo said. “I didn’t think at the time that he hit it as well as he did. You can’t take anything away from the guy. He’s really strong, apparently.”
Romo showed some strength of his own, getting through the rest of that inning and pitching a perfect 10th.
“What a great job he did to bounce back and keep the score tied there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We needed some length out of him. And then Blach, he just had a day off, I think, after going an inning and a third, and he goes out there and makes pitches when he had to. That’s what it usually comes down to at this stage. The bullpen has got to come through for you, and those guys did tonight.”
The contributions didn’t all come on the field. George Kontos stood on the bullpen mound from basically the second through the fifth, providing a safety blanket as Bumgarner tried to provide length following Jake Arrieta’s homer. Kontos estimated he threw 75-80 warm-up pitches on a cool night, but those were bullets saved by others like Law and Blach. Kontos warmed up again in the 13th as Blach ran into trouble.
“It’s good to show what we’re made of,” he said of a bullpen that was a target all season long. “After Bum gave up the homer, it seemed the air escaped out of the stadium. For him to go out there and get out of that, and get outs from the guys behind him, Will and Ty Blach, who has what, 30 days in the big leagues, it shows what this group is made of.”
Brandon Crawford and Joe Panik made sure it didn’t go to waste, teaming up on the winning run in the 13th. Law ran out for the dog pile and got right in the middle, holding his right hand up and waving the orange towel as the ballpark shook.
Law didn’t realize at the time what an impact the “rally towel” had made on the broadcast and social media. In fact, he didn’t even hold onto it. He signed it after the game and handed it back to the fan behind the dugout.
“Hopefully he comes back tomorrow,” Law said smiling.
--- Angel Pagan was scratched about 30 minutes before the game with back spasms. Pagan said his back flared up Saturday in Chicago and he came in at 1 p.m. Monday to get treatment. He never got to the point where he could play.
“He was not available,” Bochy said after the game.
Pagan said he’s day to day, and he’s unsure if he can play in Game 4. If the Giants replace him on the roster, Pagan won’t be available for a potential NLCS. A free agent after the season, Pagan has possibly played his last game for the Giants.
--- Crawford took a throw off the left elbow and Bochy said there’s a pretty good contusion there. Crawford’s arm was numb for a while, but he’s expected to be fine tomorrow.
--- Conor Gillaspie went back and looked at the replay of the call that was not overturned. Like you, he doesn’t understand how he was ruled out at first. Replay has helped the game, but there’s a long way to go. It would help if Major League Baseball put out statements of some sort during postseason games. Fans should know what they saw or didn’t see back in New York.
--- Players usually have a couple hundred text messages waiting after big walk-offs, but Panik only had about 25. “It was like 3 a.m. back home,” he said, smiling. “Mom, dad, brother, they all have work tomorrow.”