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
PHILADELPHIA, PA — So, how’s that for a start?
The Giants’ newly signed shortstop, Paul DeJong, may have a statue outside Oracle Park by the time the Giants’ charter flight touches down in the Bay Area this evening, despite the fact that his signing was only made official hours before first pitch on Wednesday.
After Camilo Doval blew his second save in as many days, DeJong delivered a two-RBI single in the top of the 10th inning, saving the day and leading San Francisco to an 8-6 victory in the series finale against the wild-card-leading Phillies. It was DeJong’s third hit of the game, following a two-run homer that looked decisive for much of the afternoon.
“It’s hard to put into words,” DeJong admitted. “I’m just thrilled to be out there and contributing to this team.” Obviously, I was the last person to enter the clubhouse. Everyone in the room was cheering and giving me high-fives. It was extremely touching. It just makes me feel like I’m already a part of the team.”
After a game like that, it’s much easier to welcome the new guy: not only three hits, including two home runs, but also a slew of defensive highlights in his first game at shortstop.
“I don’t think he could have come up any bigger throughout the game,” said manager Gabe Kapler. “The defense was equally important.”
The win was significant for the wild-card race because it not only brought the Giants within three games of the wild-card-leading Phillies, but it also gave them the tie-breaker by clinching the season series against them. They’re back in a three-way tie for third and final place after falling out of the playoff picture for the first time in more than two months on Tuesday.
“That game was played like a playoff game,” said Kapler, who used 10 pitchers in the game, the most used by any team this season and the most by the Giants since 2020. However, the manager was not looking for praise for his bullpen management. “Winning, getting on the plane, and playing some poker with the boys is all the trophy we need.”
Ryan Walker, the Giants’ tenth and final pitcher, got the final out of the bottom of the tenth, getting Trea Turner to pop out to left field. Even that wasn’t easy: Wade Meckler dropped the ball in the lights, only to recover and glove the final out.
“I probably picked it up for a second and a half before it came back down,” Meckler said.
After a difficult first two weeks in the majors, the 23-year-old rookie contributed to the victory in a variety of ways. He drew a two-out walk in the fifth inning, putting him on base for DeJong’s homer, then raced home from second with a smooth slide across the plate to put the Giants up 2-0 in the third, then used his speed again to add a third run in the top of the tenth. Before DeJong was doubled up at first on Thairo Estrada’s sacrifice fly, he tagged from third and touched home plate.
“A little baserunning error by me, but good hustle by Wade over there to get me home before I got doubled off,” DeJong explained. “All in all, it was a great game for us.”
“It happened to me in college when I was hitting where the guy didn’t run 100% to the plate,” Meckler continued. So I’ve had some practice with it. Make sure you sprint through if there’s one out.”
Just moments before, 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 in attendance erupted in ecstasy as their team erased a deficit for the third time in as many games.
Following criticism for relying solely on his heater during Tuesday’s blown save, Doval mixed his pitches better on Wednesday but couldn’t locate any of them. He walked the first two batters he faced, and Bryce Harper drove them all in with a three-run shot off the right-field foul pole to tie the game.
Doval has blown saves the last four times he has faced the batter’s box, something no other Giants pitcher has ever done. It’s been a concerning reversal from his All-Star first half, made even more so by the Giants’ lack of knowledge about what’s wrong with him.
When asked about his slider usage prior to Wednesday’s game, Doval shrugged and said, “I don’t even know.”
“What I see going on with him right now is that 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 you feel right in every situation, and I think right now he’s struggling with his pitch mix and a little bit with some baserunners.” This is the time for all of us to rally behind Camilo and remind him of his abilities.”
Doval’s erratic performance nearly ruined the Giants’ best offensive performance since mid-June.
Wilmer Flores opened the scoring in the first inning with his team-leading 18th home run, a solo shot to left field, after reaching base three times in the previous 37 games. With a pinch-hit double that drove in Estrada in the seventh inning, ice-cold Austin Slater ended the majors’ longest hitless streak (27 at-bats).
Estrada put himself in scoring position by stealing second base, the Giants’ first successful steal since July 22, when they were the only team without one. Their 14 hits — two from Flores, Estrada, Meckler, DeJong, Slater, and Michael Conforto — were their most as a team since June 16, when they were on a 10-game winning streak.
“Very well-rounded,” said Kapler. “We saw runners move, runners advance from third base with less than two outs, big hits, two-out rallies.” There are some really, really strong signals there.”
At the trade deadline, the Giants mostly stayed put, acquiring a pair of players who have combined for 16 at-bats for them, allowing the Blue Jays to swoop in and acquire DeJong. They watched as the Phillies made a move to bolster their rotation, acquiring Wednesday’s starter, Michael Lorenzen.
As the saying goes, good things come to those who wait.
DeJong collected more total bases in one swing of the bat on Wednesday than he had in 13 games with the Blue Jays. With another, he assisted his new team in snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, after nearly allowing the Phillies to do the same. He finished the game 3-for-5 with a well-struck single in his third at-bat. The Giants hadn’t had a multi-hit game from a shortstop since August 1, the same day they got their last home run from the position.
DeJong, who used to hit 30 home runs in a season, has 13 this year, but none since July 21.
“It was almost like a reset for me just joining this team,” DeJong explained. “That’s how I felt going into today.” It had been a few days since I had even been on a field, so going out there with a clean slate was extremely beneficial to my mental approach.”
The Giants have the day off Thursday before playing the Atlanta Braves for the second time in a week. This is followed by three straight series against teams in the wild-card standings: three against Cincinnati, four against San Diego, and three more against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.