Giants

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs 1987 West-clinching win in San Diego

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AP

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs 1987 West-clinching win in San Diego

PROGRAMMING NOTE: NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Pregame Live at 3pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Marlins conclude, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round! Make your vote count!

1. Brandon Belt's 18th inning homer against the Nationals in 2014 NLDS (10-time winner -- Brandon Crawford's grand slam in Giants' 8-0 win over Pirates in 2014 NL Wild Card Game)

(From Alex Pavlovic)
By the end of an 18-inning win over the Nationals in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, the Giants were drained in every way. It would be understandable if some of them have few solid memories of the six-hour, 23-minute marathon game, but Brandon Belt will never forget the details. His solo shot off Tanner Roark in the top of the 18th was the difference in a 2-1 win. Four years later, the moment is still fresh in his mind, from his preparation for the at-bat to the emphatic bat drop: 

(From Brandon Belt)
"I remember chugging a Red Bull. It was late into the night and that's tough, it's mentally draining and physically draining to be in a game like that, where you're giving everything you've got to win a baseball game. I was drained at that moment to say the least. I remember chugging a Red Bull and going out there and thinking, 'I'm just going to try and get on base and see what happens.' I remember just not trying to do too much and he gave me a pitch that I could handle, that was kind of in my happy zone. It felt like one of the first home runs I ever hit. It's like you're in Little League and you hit a home run and it's like you're in a dream and it's not real life -- it was kind of the same way. 

"We had just played so long and it was such a big moment in the game, and the fact that I was able to come through and help us win with such a big hit, it was surreal to me. I felt like I was floating around the bases. I think (the bat drop) was relief, more than anything. When I do that I don't really know I do it. It was really just relief. The way the game was going, we had to assume it was over after that. The bullpen had done so well and everyone was so tired. It was going to be tough for (the Nationals) to come back after that.

"We were just ready to go home. We had a long flight after that. We just put so much effort into it and all the guys did so great. Pablo came up with a big hit in the ninth inning and Petit throwing (six shutout) innings. For me, that was the pivotal game of that entire playoffs. We were playing the best team in the NL and to be able to come home up 2-0 was huge."

VS.

2. Giants' NL West clinching win in San Diego in 1987

(From Mike Krukow -- Giants pitcher from 1983 through 1989 and current NBC Sports Bay Area Giants analyst)

The stretch drive for the ‘87 Giants was an incredible time. For most of us, we had not only never been to the playoffs, we had also played on the ‘85 team that lost 100 games. To get to the playoffs not only represented professional baseball credibility, it would also go along way of erasing the horrible memory of being on a team that lost 100 games.

We all wanted it badly.

When the game started we were all suffering from the “Over-Amp” and we just wanted to know how it was all going to turn out. We were not used to the playoff atmosphere.

I truly believe that what calmed us all down were the unusual home runs that were hit in that game. Jeffrey Leonard and Chili Davis’ 100th home runs brought us back to earth. Two milestone HR’s hit on the same day and both guys teasing the other one about who got it first and then who hit it the farthest! Good Laughs that we all needed to shake the “over amp”.

And then, to top it all off, Caveman Robinson, a pitcher, hit the longest HR of the three! After that, we felt bullet proof.

VOTE HERE:

Giants rally undone by Cardinals' explosive eighth inning in loss

Giants rally undone by Cardinals' explosive eighth inning in loss

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have played so many big games at Busch Stadium over the past decade, but on their first night in St. Louis this season, they weren’t able to handle the role of spoiler. 

After overcoming a two-run deficit with a rally in the seventh, the bullpen gave up two in the eighth and the Giants lost 5-3 to the Cardinals. Mark Melancon put two on and pinch-hitter Matt Adams poked a two-run double off Tony Watson. 

Here’s what else you need to know…

—- Madison Bumgarner threw 32 pitches in the sixth and that ended his night. In his first start at Busch Stadium since the 2014 postseason, Bumgarner was charged with three runs on eight hits. With one start he left, he has a 3.20 ERA, so he’ll finish above 3.00 for a second straight year after four seasons under. 

—- The Giants fell flat on two early chances to blow the game wide open. With runners on the corners and no outs in the second, Aramis Garcia struck out, Austin Slater lined out, and Bumgarner went down looking. The bases were loaded in the third and the Giants scored a run on a walk, but Garcia struck out swinging to end the threat. 

—- Jordan Hicks was sitting at 102 mph, but the Giants found a way to get two runs across in the seventh and tie the game. After a walk of Austin Slater, Alen Hanson pulled a seeing-eye single to right on a 102 mph pitch. Gregor Blanco got the same heat and hit a shallow bloop that Marcell Ozuna butchered into an RBI single. Hanson reached third on a wild pitch and tied the game when Evan Longoria grounded out to first. 

—- Aramis Garcia has had a promising month, but his first night at Busch Stadium was rough. The rookie struck out four times. 

Giants outfielders turn to new trick in trying to improve defensively

Giants outfielders turn to new trick in trying to improve defensively

SAN FRANCISCO -- In the bottom of the eighth inning Tuesday night, Giants center fielder Gregor Blanco watched Padres first baseman Eric Hosmer single to left field and then reached for his back pocket. Blanco pulled out a small card and studied it as he walked back toward dead center.

The card had told him that Hosmer likes to go the other way, but Padres catcher Austin Hedges, the next batter, had different tendencies, so Blanco kept walking until he was about 30 feet to the right-field side of second base. Hedges grounded out to second, right in line with where Blanco was standing, and the dance started again, this time in left field.

Giants rookie left fielder Chris Shaw reached into his back pocket and pulled out a similar card. He took a quick peak, hiding the card alongside his glove, and then quickly tucked it back into his pocket before moving over a few steps. 

“I try to be discreet,” Shaw said the next day, smiling. 

The Giants have been discreet about this particular adjustment for months, but if you watch the outfielders closely, you’ll see them studying between innings or hitters. Before each game, bench coach Hensley Meulens hands out the cards, which are small enough to fit in a player’s back pocket but display a wealth of information. Each opposing hitter is listed with spray charts of where he most often hits the ball against left-handed and right-handed pitchers. The card tells an outfielder whether he needs to shade over toward the line, or play deep, or shallow, and much more.

Meulens has a much more detailed master copy in his own pocket and will make adjustments during at-bats depending on the swings he’s seeing, or info relayed from pitching coach Curt Young or manager Bruce Bochy.

“Everything is evolving,” Meulens said. “It’s much easier for me to have them have that info out there in their pocket. We needed to be in a better position to catch more balls in the air, and sometimes it’s a lot easier for them to take a peak at the card instead of me having to move three players from the dugout.”

In past seasons, Giants outfielders were presented with that info before a series or game and would have to memorize it. Meulens would make adjustments with hand signals from the dugout, but that’s easier said than done. With 40,000 fans buzzing and action on the bases, it can be hard to get an outfielder’s attention from the top step and relay that he needs to move a few paces one way or the other. 

Enter the card system, which already was being used by several other teams. The card itself is just a slip of paper with spray charts that look similar to the one shown on broadcasts, except instead of the field being broken up into five segments, it’s nine or more. There are plenty of details, but players have found the info useful.

“I’ve liked it a lot,” Austin Slater said. “There’s a lot of info that last year you would take five or 10 minutes before a game to memorize. This is way more efficient. Purists might not like it, but this is the way the game is moving.”

There already have been objections. Umpire Joe West confiscated a similar card from Phillies reliever Austin Davis earlier this month, and MLB eventually might crack down on the type of info that can be taken onto the field. For now, it’s helping the Giants try to improve an outfield defense that was awful last season. In September, it has proven especially useful.

Slater said he consulted the card for just about every batter against the Braves, who are an unfamiliar out-of-division opponent, and he expects to do the same against the Cardinals. Gorkys Hernandez doesn’t use the card against NL West opponents because he knows their tendencies, but he said he has used it to adjust against September call-ups. Shaw tries to check often and memorize the next four batters’ tendencies. 

The card is just the latest step for a staff that has tried to keep up with an evolving game. The Giant have had a member of the front office traveling with them all season to provide additional data, and members of the staff will get together next week to break down every aspect of their outfield defense and see where there have been improvements. It’s likely the card system will stick, which means players will have to get used to an adjustment to their pre-game routine.

“I forget to take it a lot of times,” Hernandez admitted, laughing. “When they give it to me, I put it in my locker. Sometimes I’ll see the batter come up and I don’t have it, so I try to look at his swing and read him that way, and then after the inning, I’ll run down and pick it up.”

There’s another adjustment, too. Slater said the in-game homework has led to some increased heckling. 

“We were on the road the other day, and some guy yelled ‘Why do you keep reaching for your pocket? Stop cheating!’ ” he said. 

The Giants view it more as gaining a tiny and legal edge. If they pick up an extra out here and there, it's all worth it.