After the SF Giants held a pregame ceremony to award infielder Wilmer Flores the 2022 Willie Mac Award, San Francisco took on the Diamondbacks and won 10-4.
It looked like a tough matchup for the Giants before the game. Set to face Dbacks starter Merrill Kelly, who has had the Giants number all season long, it seemed like their offense could struggle. That turned out to be far from the case.
Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning after recording a walk and pair of singles off Giants starting pitcher Alex Cobb. In the bottom half of the inning, though, San Francisco struck back.
Joc Pederson got things started with a lead-off walk before a single by Flores and double by outfielder Mike Yastrzemski evened the score at one with one out for Evan Longoria. Kelly left a 1-2 fastball catch the heart of the zone and Longo sent it into the left-field bleachers for his 14th homer of the season.
Cobb worked around two more singles in a shutout second inning and gave the Giants offense an opportunity to break the game open. Pederson left off the inning with a high fly ball to right-center field that Pederson thought would be caught on the warning track. Instead, it bounced off the bricks and shot into center field. Pederson sprinted around the bases for a triple before realizing a bad relay throw into the infield gave him an opportunity. He sprinted home, beat the throw, and scored.
Kelly nearly limited the damage after Pederson's triple, quickly retiring the next two hitters. A two-out walk to Yastrzemski, though, proved costly. Facing Longoria once again, Kelly threw a first-pitch fastball right down the middle, and Longo blasted his second home run of the day. Just like that, the Giants led 7-1.
"Our philosophy was kind of like, let's just be more aggressive early in the count," Longoria said in a conversation with reporters after the game about the team's strategy against Kelly. "If he throws a complete game in 80 pitches, so be it. Let's just go out and attack him."
The Giants club option for Longoria in 2023 will be one of their most interesting decision this offseason. While the option is for $13 million next season, it comes with a $5 million buyout, meaning the Giants basically have to decide if they want to keep Longoria around for $8 million next year.
Despite his struggles to stay healthy, it's hard to argue with the value. Longoria remains a one of the best defensive third baseman in MLB and a consistent above-average hitter. After his two-homer night on Friday, he's hitting .247/.320/.456 with 14 home runs in 88 games this season. Even if the Giants want to give J.D. Davis and David Villar more playing time at third base, it's hard to imagine San Francisco could not find a contender interested in acquiring Longoria for a low-tier prospect this offseason.
Cobb was not sharp on Friday, but the early lead gave him the flexibility to trust his defense. He recorded five strikeouts over five innings of work, allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk.
Kelly lasted 4.2 innings, surrendering his third homer (and eighth earned run) to Yastrzemski in the bottom of the fourth before Dbacks manager Torey Lovullo replaced him with Sean Poppen.
In the bottom of the sixth, with Poppen still on the hill, Giants catcher Austin Wynns started a two-running inning with a solo homer to left field. Pederson doubled and eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Flores.
Giants manager turned to rookie reliever Thomas Szapucki in the sixth inning. Szapucki continued making an excellent case to be a core member of the 2023 bullpen. While Szapucki has a terrible 8.31 ERA this season, it's almost entirely driven by a bad start in his debut when he was with the Mets earlier this season. Since joining the Giants, he has a 2.31 ERA in 11.2 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts and just two walks.
Alex Young replaced Szapucki in the seventh inning and completed two shutout innings out of the Giants pen before Yunior Marte retired the Diamondbacks in the ninth to end the game.
The SF Giants win brings their season record to 79-78. It's the first time their record has been above .500 since August 17th. They are now just one loss, Brewers win, or Phillies victory away from being eliminated from the postseason, but finishing the year with more wins than losses would still be a small moral victory.
They will take on the Diamondbacks again tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 PM Pacific.