SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants dropped a heartbreaker in Game 5 of the National League Division Series on Thursday night at Oracle Park, but Darin Ruf’s first career postseason hit was a big one -- in its importance and, frankly, its distance.
With the Giants trailing by one run in the sixth inning of their eventual 2-1 loss to the Dodgers, Ruf got a middle-middle fastball from left-hander Julio Urías, and he made no mistake.
The Giants' left fielder demolished a game-tying home run to straightaway center field, a projected 452 feet according to Statcast. It was the longest home run of the postseason thus far -- after Ruf had recorded flyouts of 377 and 378 feet in his first two at-bats.
“Once you get to a 3-2 count, you just hope to react,” Ruf said. “I reacted on time, and just put a pretty good swing on it.”
Ruf, a savvy free-agent signing with the Giants ahead of the 2020 season, is fresh off the best year of his career. Deployed mostly as a platoon outfield piece, Ruf batted .271/.385/.519 in 312 plate appearances in '21.
Now, he joins a select list of Giants to hit a home run in a winner-take-all postseason game -- a group that also includes Barry Bonds, Buster Posey, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Conor Gillaspie.
After beginning the series 0-for-9 with four strikeouts, Ruf’s home run tied the game at 1. The Dodgers took the lead on Cody Bellinger’s go-ahead single three innings later and shortly thereafter sealed an NLDS victory in the first postseason series between these two NL West heavyweights. Ruf, under team control for two more seasons, doesn’t anticipate it being the last.
“I'm shocked it was the first,” Ruf said afterward. “What a series for the first time. I mean, we don't plan on taking any steps backwards. I know they don't. So, yeah, it will be hopefully fun for years to come.”