10 wins. 3 walk-offs. Joe Panik.
Joe Panik showed us this last year in the run up to the playoffs, and throughout the post-season. A rookie last year, Panik exemplified a veteran’s resolve and steely confidence in clutch situations. And already, early in this 2015 season, Panik is proving that he’s every bit the clutch player he was a year ago, as 20% of the Giants’ victories this year have been settled by Panik in walk-off fashion.
And the torture continues. This one had the fans on the edge of their seat the entire night. The G-men struck first, with Nori Aoki doubling to lead off the bottom of the first inning (the Giants only extra base hit of the game) and scoring on a sacrifice fly by Angel Pagan for a 1-0 lead. The Giants offense has struggled all year, but one can’t imagine where they’d be right now without Pagan, who is hitting .352 with 7 RBI on the season and 8 runs scored. Pagan has been an offensive spark plug these first 23 games, accounting for 23% of the Giants’ runs scored. He’s currently ranked 10th in batting average in the National League.
The Giants clung to the 1-0 lead until the seventh inning, as rookie pitcher Chris Heston turned in another quality start, battling veteran CJ Wilson. After six shutout innings, Heston surrendered the tying run in the seventh, ending the night with 6 ⅓ innings pitched and just one run allowed, along with five hits and five strikeouts. Statistically, Heston continues to be the Giants best starting pitcher with a 2.51 ERA on the season, and with Madison Bumgarner, forms a formidable 1-2 punch. Wilson pitched equally well, going 7 complete innings, allowing one run on just four hits with five strikeouts. Neither pitcher factored in the decision.
The teams traded runs in the seventh inning, and then the Angels tied the game again at 2-2 in the eighth, on a sacrifice fly by David Freese. That led to the tortuous bottom of the ninth and Panik’s heroics. “We weren’t happy with our April,” Panik noted. So he took matters into his own hands.
The Giants are now 1-0 in May and on this 10 game home stand, and their record stands at 10-13, still 4 ½ games behind the Dodgers, who won again last night. The G-men send veteran Tim Hudson to the mound for this afternoon’s game and he’ll be opposed by Los Angeles starter Hector Santiago, as the Giants’ quest for a 10 game winning streak on this home stand continues.