SAN FRANCISCO – Hector Sanchez wanted to win the game. He wanted to beat the archrivals. He wanted to reward the hearty folk who stayed to the end of a game that lasted six minutes short of five hours, and dragged 14 minutes after midnight.
He wanted one other thing: to go home.
“I’ve got to drop my daughter off at school in the morning,” he said.
After 15 stranded runners and five hitless at-bats with the bases loaded, the Giants finally found someone to ring the bell in the 12th inning. It was Sanchez, whose liner up the middle ticked off second baseman Justin Turner’s glove for his fourth career walk-off hit.
The hit scored Brandon Crawford, who had singled, advanced on a ground out and took third on a wild pitch. For the second consecutive game, it was Crawford who scored the walk-off run – this time to end a 3-2 victory over the Dodgers.
[INSTANT REPLAY: Sanchez, Giants walk off on Dodgers]
Sanchez saw his teammates coming and tried to curl up like an armadillo to limit the celebratory kidney punches. Brandon Belt found an opening and gave him a few good knees to the shin.
Maybe it’s games like these that show the Giants they can punch back. They lost so many in walk-off fashion last season, or failed to close out wins at home. They definitely deserved to lose this one, too, after all the failures with runners on base. But seven relievers combined to allow just a run in seven innings, and the Giants matched the Dodgers with a 9-5 record atop the NL West.
“We were asked to get outs and we did,” said Sergio Romo, who pitched a scoreless ninth. “It’s good to be able to grind like this, because you never know. We may be talking about a game like this that gets you over the edge.”
In the standings. And otherwise.
“You learn about your team, too,” Romo said. “Your character. Your backbone. Your resiliency. It’s fun for me to watch my team right now.”
Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: “These tight games are the ones that help to get you where you want to go.”