Giants offense sparked by a 40-foot, bases-clearing dribbler
Jim Gensheimer/Bay Area News Group Jarrod Parker raced all the way home from first on Matt Moore’s dribbler up the line as the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 4-1.
SAN FRANCISCO — The most important ball the Giants put in play Monday traveled no more than 40 feet up the first base line.
Matt Moore’s bases-loaded swinging bunt in the fourth inning pushed across three of the Giants’ runs in their 4-1 home opener victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks and invoked one of manager Bruce Bochy’s favorite stats.
“We call ‘em RTIs — runs thrown in,” Bochy said, “and we had three of ‘em. It was a crazy inning. Matty just got enough of it.”
The Giants kicked off the AT&T Park portion of their schedule wanting to put on a better show than their 2-5 road trip to start the season. With cleanup hitter Buster Posey in the clubhouse after taking a fastball to the helmet in the first inning, the Giants were left finding more creative ways to score. They certainly did so.
Brandon Crawford led off the fourth inning with a double and moved up to third base on a groundout by Eduardo Núñez. Joe Panik and Jarrett Parker each worked walks from Diamondbacks’ starter Taijaun Walker to load the bases, sending Moore to the plate wanting to do everything he could to avoid hitting into a double play. He bunted a first-pitch fastball foul, not to Bochy’s liking.
“That was probably my fault,” Bochy said. “I really didn’t want him bunting. I won’t go into it. He ended up having a swinging bunt so it worked out pretty good. The last thing you want him to do is hit into a double play, but I really didn’t want him bunting there.”
When Walker threw Moore a curveball on the next pitch, he hit a little tapper that went less than halfway up the first base line. Walker raced in and slid to field the ball before rushing a throw home to try to get Crawford. Walker’s throw was in the dirt and to the right of catcher Jeff Mathis, who never had a chance. That spurred Panik into action.
“I was able to kind of see where Mathis was and right when I saw how the ball kicked and got by him, I was like, ‘Take the chance. Might as well’,” Panik said.
As Panik raced toward home, Parker kept his eyes locked on his lead runner. Mathis scrambled after the ball and tried to fire to Walker to gun down Panik, but his throw went up the line as Panik slid home safety. Then it became Parker’s turn to attempt a mad dash toward home.
“I was ready for it,” Parker said. “In moments like that, you’ve got to always be heads up because you never know what can happen.
“Watching there, I want to make sure Joe’s going home first so we don’t get hung up. Once I see Joe going home, I’m going there and I want to get a good round about third and once I did that, I saw the ball kick and went for it.”
Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt chased down Mathis’ wild throw and fired it back to Walker, but Parker beat the throw with a head-first dive as Moore broke into a wide grin standing at second base.
“That was fun,” Moore said. “You probably hadn’t seen that before in a game.”
For Parker, it was a perfect way for him to contribute while mired in an 0-for-13 slump to start the year. And wouldn’t you know it, he finally got his first hit of the season in his next at-bat.
“I got fired up there, putting three runs on the board for the team,” Parker said. “It’s really exciting, just trying to make an impact any way I can.”
Panik admitted being surprised to see Parker coming his way after he got up from his slide and tapped on home plate a second time (just to be sure).
“That just goes to show what hustle does,” Panik said. “For him to go 270 feet like that on a ball goes 30 feet, that shows his speed and baseball intellect.”
It’s one of those moments that just may help a team shake out of a funk and get them started on a roll.
“We had trouble getting some runs there,” Bochy said, “so we’ll take that break.”