Watch Giants closer Will Smith drive in two runs in epic first career at-bat

Watch Giants closer Will Smith drive in two runs in epic first career at-bat

Will Smith's evening went from awful to great in about 30 minutes.

In the top of the eighth inning Sunday night, the Giants closer blew the save against the Phillies. But he redeemed himself in the bottom half.

Yes, the bottom half of the inning.

That's because the Giants rallied to take the lead, forcing Smith to step in the batter's box for the first time in his major league career.

If you expected Smith to keep the bat on his shoulder for three strikes and go back to the dugout, you'd be completely wrong.

Smith lined Nick Pivetta's a 3-1 fastball to right field for his first major league hit, and Kevin Pillar and Brandon Crawford scored to give the Giants a three-run lead.

Smith, who's in his ninth major league season, collected his first career hit and first two RBI on one swing.

Despite admitting he hadn't hit since his days at Gulf Coast Community College, Smith said he's been preparing for this moment.

"I actually took some swings in the cage today," Smith told ESPN after the Giants' 9-6 win. "The days when I'm off, I'll just carry around a bat and see if [Giants manager Bruce Bochy] will let me in, but he hasn't until today. I'm glad it paid off."

Smith, one of the best closers in baseball this season, revealed that he was nervous when he stepped into the box.

"[Phillies catcher J.T.] Realmuto asked me the last time I hit. I was like, 'I think in college, so let's get this over with quick,' " Smith said. "It worked out the way it did."

Smith got a Gatorade bath from his teammates after the game, but that's probably not the end of the celebration.

"There's no telling what I'm about to get when I walk in the clubhouse," Smith said. "But I'm sure it's going to be something."

As if all this action with his bat wasn't enough, Smith was credited with the win. Not a bad night.

The Giants took three of four from the Phillies in the series at Oracle Park and now are 3 1/2 games out of an NL wild-card spot. After a day off Monday, the Giants will host the A's in the first two games of the Bay Bridge Series.

Stay tuned to see if Bochy uses Smith as a pinch-hitter.

Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade

Mark Melancon excited to face Giants for first time since Braves trade

ATLANTA -- As the Braves' relief pitchers finished their sprints in right field Friday afternoon, a pack of Giants relievers started a jog around the warning track. Mark Melancon walked over and met his former teammates, but the hugs lost a little steam as he made his way through. Eventually, Melancon was standing around with just Will Smith, catching up a few hours before they faced each other. 

"The first half (of the group) I knew all the guys," Melancon said, smiling. "The second half it was all new guys."

The Giants just about have a completely new bullpen since Melancon's last appearance. Melancon has a new situation, too. As the Giants limp to the finish, their former marquee free-agent addition will try to close out a National League East title with the Braves. 

Melancon, mostly a mid-innings man for the Giants this season, is the closer for one of the National League's powerhouses. He's perfect in 11 save opportunities in Atlanta. That may come as a surprise to fans who watched him for two and a half seasons in San Francisco. It does not at all seem out of place for Melancon. 

"That's where I think I'm best," he said of the ninth inning. "I knew that. That was easy for me to see."

Melancon never lost that confidence in San Francisco, even as an arm injury that popped up in his first week with the Giants robbed him of much of his old effectiveness. He had a 3.67 ERA with the Giants but totaled just 15 saves. 

The Giants got out of the final year-plus of a $62 million deal and acquiring two pitching prospects in the minutes before the trade deadline. Melancon ended up being the real winner in the deal. He has found himself closing for a team that can clinch the division Friday night. 

"I'm so impressed with these guys," he said of the Braves. "They're 22-year-olds acting like they're 35 as far as maturity level. It's really impressive."

[RELATED: Giants' Madison Bumgarner's road struggles continue ahead of free agency]

Melancon is excited about heading back to the postseason, although he credited his former team for never losing sight of that goal. He said he appreciated that the Giants never went full rebuild, and he looks back on his time in San Francisco fondly. 

"I had a great time. It's always about the people," he said. "It was a great two and a half years with great people ... that was our home for two and a half years and it was awesome."

Giants vs. Braves lineups: Tyler Beede starts final road series of 2019


Giants vs. Braves lineups: Tyler Beede starts final road series of 2019

With the Giants' 2019 season in existence for just 10 more days, San Francisco kicks off its final road series of the season Friday night against the NL-East leading Atlanta Braves.

Starting for the Giants is former first-round pick Tyler Beede, who is coming off back-to-back wins over the Dodgers and Marlins. It will be Beede’s first career start against the Braves.

Taking the hill for Atlanta is Mike Foltynewicz, who owns a 3-3 record with a 4.47 ERA in seven starts against the Giants in his career.

Coverage begins at 3:00 PT with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming in the MyTeams App.

[RELATED: How Giants prospects acquired at MLB trade deadline played this season]

Here are the lineups for Giants-Braves:

San Francisco Giants (74-79)
RF Mike Yastrzemski
1B Brandon Belt
3B Evan Longoria
C Stephen Vogt
CF Kevin Pillar
LF Alex Dickerson
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Mauricio Dubon
RHP Tyler Beede (5-9, 5.02 ERA)

Atlanta Braves (94-60)
CF Ronald Acuna Jr.
2B Ozzie Albies
1B Freddie Freeman
3B Josh Donaldson
LF Nick Markakis
RF Matt Joyce
C Brian McCann
SS Dansby Swanson
RHP Mike Foltynewicz (7-5, 4.80 ERA)