The Giants' 2021 season has been a pleasant surprise, as a team not projected to make the playoffs by just about everyone owns MLB's best record after 148 games. There are a number of reasons for this success, but timely hitting might be the most critical, as their statistics on pinch-hitting indicate.
Donovan Solano's game-tying home run in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Giants their 16th pinch-hit home run of the season, which is one shy of tying the MLB record set by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2016 (h/t MLB's Sarah Langs).
Solano's home run tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, the ninth time the Giants have either tied or taken the lead on a pinch-hit homer as @cespedesBBQ pointed out on Twitter.
Only the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks (nine) have had as many game-tying or go-ahead pinch-hit home runs in a season.
It wasn't a home run, but pitcher Kevin Gausman pinch-hit for Camilo Doval with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 11th inning on Friday night, and walked the game off with a sacrifice fly.
That timely hitting has the Giants in first place in the NL West, a division many experts expected to be dominated by the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres.
Gabe Kapler has been among the most substitution-happy managers in baseball this season, and his tinkering and decision-making clearly have paid off for the Giants.