ORACLE PARK — When the ball left Pablo Sandoval’s bat, it looked like an easy pop fly.
With two outs and a runner on first in the bottom of the 10th, Sandoval cued a fly ball off the end of his bat into shallow left field. Alex Dickerson took off on contact and, when New York Mets left fielder Dominic Smith misread it, he sprinted for home and scored without a play at the plate to cap off a the San Francisco Giants’ second straight extra-inning win, a 1-0 decision.
“I was going hard right out of the gate,” Dickerson said. “Once it dropped I was going to do everything I could to hit home.”
The win –the Giants’ seventh in a row and 14th in the last 16 – put San Francisco (49-49) at an even .500 for the first time since Opening Day, moved the team within two games of the National League’s second wild card spot and improved San Francisco’s record to 8-2 in extra innings.
It was the first time the Giants (49-49) have had back-to-back walk off wins since April 22-23, 2015 against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As much as the walkoff error and Dickerson’s hustle framed the Giants’ latest win, it was right-handed starter Tyler Beede who was the hero of the night.
Beede (3-3, 4.70 ERA) was exceptional, twirling eight innings of scoreless, three-hit ball on 89 pitches to edge 2018 National League Cy Young winner Jacob Degrom, who held serve over seven scoreless innings of his own, in which he struck out ten.
“He’s pitching with a lot of confidence,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “He had all his pitches going, good life on the fastball and a good breaking ball. He was right on tonight which we needed because it wasn’t much offense on either side.”
In addition to pitching deeper into a game than he had ever gone before, Beede turned in his most efficient outing, only topping 13 pitches in an inning once — in the eighth, when he needed 17 pitches. Beede’s previous career-long was seven innings against the Padres on July 2.
Bochy even said after the game that had Beede not been due to lead off in the ninth inning, he would’ve sent him out for another frame.
“Pitch count was great,” Bochy said. “Plus with our bullpen usage, I’m letting these starters go deep and they’ve done a terrific job these last two games.”
Beede confirmed that he went into the game wanting to give the San Francisco bullpen – which had pitched seven innings the night before in a 3-2, 16-inning marathon win – some much-needed rest.
“I certainly didn’t put pressure on myself to go eight or nine innings,” Beede said, “but wanted to go deep into the ballgame, knowing what we did last night. So I put more of an emphasis on attacking early. Even if I was ahead, it wasn’t as much about expanding the zone as it was making a quality pitch in the zone.”
In his last three starts, Beede is 2-0 with a 1.70 ERA and has begun to round into a reliable starter, an invaluable piece in the Giants’ push back into playoff relevance.
In the sixth, Beede walked his first batter in three games, throwing four straight balls to DeGrom after a first-pitch strike. The free pass proved inconsequential, as Beede retired the next three Mets in order on six pitches.
Only once did a New York runner reach second base during the game. In the fourth, Robinson Cano slammed a double into right field with two outs and gave New York its only real scoring threat of the day. Beede would get Wilson Ramos to fly out to right in the next at-bat to end the potential rally.
Opponents are 12-for-42 (.286) against Beede with runners in scoring position, with only four hits in their last 18 at-bats (.222) as the right-hander has tightened up in scoring opportunities in his past three starts.
When Beede left the game after the top of the eighth inning, he turned the ball over to closer Will Smith, and then reliever Sam Dyson, when the game reached extras. Smith and Dyson would retire all six batters they faced to round out a dominant pitching performance by the Giants.
Perhaps as important as the win itself, the shutout was the latest demonstration of the Giants’ versatility, as San Francisco has scored four runs over its last 26 innings and won both games after a series sweep of the Rockies in which the team tallied 40 runs.
On Saturday, the Giants turn to Jeff Samardzija (7-7, 3.93 ERA) as they look to keep it rolling and secure the series win over the Mets and right-hander Walter Lockett (0-1. 11.74 ERA).