May 30, 2024
DeJong slugged a 2-run home run in his second at-bat with the Giants and drove in the winning runs in the top of the 10th while SF collected its most hits since June 16.

PHILADELPHIA — How’s that for an introduction?

His signing only made official hours before first pitch Wednesday, the Giants’ newly inked shortstop, Paul DeJong, just might have a statue outside Oracle Park by the time the Giants’ charter flight touches back down in the Bay Area this evening.

After Camilo Doval blew his second save in as many days, DeJong delivered a two-RBI knock in the top of the 10th, saving the day and salvaging an 8-6 win in the finale of San Francisco’s series against the wild card-leading Phillies. It was DeJong’s third hit of game to go with a two-run homer that, for much of the afternoon, looked to be decisive.

“It’s hard to put into words,” DeJong said. “I’m just so happy to be out there and contribute for this team. … Obviously I was the last one in (to the clubhouse). Everyone was in here cheering and giving me high-fives. It was really heartwarming. It just makes me feel like part of the team already.”

It’s certainly easier to welcome the new guy after a game like that: not only three hits but a litany of defensive highlights in his first game at shortstop.

“I don’t think he could have come up any bigger throughout the game,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “The defense was equally important.”

The win carried significant wild-card implications: In addition to pulling the Giants within three games of the first-place Phillies, it also gave them the tie-breaker by clinching the season series against them. They are back into a tie for the third and final spot with the D-backs, who were off Wednesday, after briefly dropping out of the playoff picture Tuesday for the first time in more than two months.

“That game was played like a playoff game,” said Kapler, who cycled through 10 pitchers, the most any team has used in a game this season and the most used by the Giants since 2020. But the manager wasn’t looking for any plaudits for his bullpen management. “Winning and getting on the plane and playing some poker with the boys is all the trophy we need.”

Just moments earlier, Doval plodded back to the dugout, down the steps and into the clubhouse as Jakob Junis jogged across the outfield grass and the 33,035 on hand erupted into pandemonium, watching their team erase a deficit for the third time in as many games this series.

After taking heat for solely relying on his heater during Tuesday night’s blown save, Doval mixed his pitches better Wednesday but wasn’t able to locate any of them. He walked the first two batters he faced and Bryce Harper drove them all in to tie the game with a three-run shot off the right-field foul pole.

It was Ryan Walker, the Giants’ 10th and final pitcher, who recorded the save with the final out of the bottom of the 10th, getting Trea Turner to pop out to left field. But not even that was simple: Meckler initially lost the ball in the lights only to recover and glove the final out.

The Giants’ bullpen, the strength of their team for most of this season, all of a sudden doesn’t look so solid.

Doval has blown saves the last four times he has touched the mound, something no one else in a Giants uniform has ever done. It’s been a concerning reversal from his All-Star first half, made even more so because the Giants don’t know what’s wrong with him.

Asked about his slider usage before Wednesday’s game, Doval shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t even know.”

“What I see going on with him right now is the game is moving pretty fast,” Kapler said of his All-Star closer. “He’s got some big game experience, but that doesn’t mean that you feel right in every situation, and I think right now he’s struggling with his pitch mix, he’s struggling with some base runners a little bit. This is the right time for all of us to rally around Camilo and remind him how good he is.”

Alex Cobb started and didn’t allow a base runner until Harper won a 10-pitch battle with a two-out, line-drive single in the fourth inning. The Giants, who had won in 15 of Cobb’s first 20 starts this season, snapped a three-game skid with him on the mound. With the only damage coming on a pair of solo homers from the final two hitters he faced, Cobb allowed his fewest runs in a start since the end of July, lowering his August ERA to 6.84.

Doval’s erratic outing nearly wasted the Giants’ best offensive showing since mid-June.

Reaching base three more times, as he has done at least once in all but three of his past 37 games, Wilmer Flores opened the scoring in the first inning with his team-leading 18th home run, a solo shot to left field.

Flores added another RBI as Wade Meckler raced home, scoring with a smooth slide across the plate, in the third, and ice-cold Austin Slater snapped the majors’ longest hitless streak — 27 at-bats — with a pinch-hit double that drove home Thairo Estrada to pad their advantage in the seventh.

San Francisco Giants’ Wade Meckler, left, scores past Philadelphia Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto on a single by Wilmer Flores during the third inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Aug. 23, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) 

Estrada put himself into scoring position by swiping second base, the Giants’ first successful steal since July 22, the only team without one in that span. Their 14 total hits — two each from Flores, Estrada, Meckler, DeJong, Slater and Michael Conforto — were their most as a team since June 16, in the middle of their 10-game win streak.

The Giants mostly stood pat at the trade deadline, acquiring a pair of players who have combined 16 at-bats for them, allowing the Blue Jays to swoop in and acquire DeJong. They watched as the Phillies made a move to boost their rotation, acquiring the starter on the mound for them Wednesday, Michael Lorenzen.

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Good things, as the saying goes, come for those who wait.

With one swing of the bat Wednesday, DeJong collected more total bases than he had in 13 games with the Blue Jays. With another, he helped his new club clutch victory from the jaws of defeat, after they very nearly allowed the Phillies to do the same. He added another with a well-struck single in his third at-bat. The Giants had not gotten a multi-hit effort from a shortstop since Aug. 1, the same date as their last homer from the position.

DeJong, who once hit 30 homers in a season, had 13 this year but none since July 21.

Up next

The Giants are off Thursday before meeting baseball’s best team, the Atlanta Braves, for the second time in a week’s span. That is followed by three straight series against teams competing with them in the wild-card standings: three vs. Cincinnati, four at San Diego and three more at Wrigley Field against the Cubs.

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