CINCINNATI -- Brandon Crawford couldn’t have picked a better time to hit his first home run of the season.
Crawford crushed a pinch-hit, go-ahead, two-run home run off Reds closer Raisel Iglesias in the ninth inning to lift the Giants to a 6-5 comeback win on Sunday afternoon at Great American Ball Park.
Buster Posey, who tied the game with a three-run homer off Luis Castillo in the sixth, ignited the ninth-inning rally with a one-out double to left field, bringing up Crawford to hit in the pitcher’s spot. Crawford, who didn’t start after receiving a routine day off, promptly smoked a 1-0 changeup from Iglesias to right field for his second career pinch-hit home run, giving the Giants a 6-4 lead.
“It’s hard to get bigger than that,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We were trying to give him a break today, and he comes off the bench and does that, so good for him. Something like that can get a guy going.”
The 398-foot shot snapped Crawford’s stretch of 129 at-bats without a home run and hinted at a potential offensive turnaround for the 32-year-old shortstop, who entered Sunday batting .204 with a .510 OPS, three RBIs and three extra-base hits, all doubles, in 33 games this year.
“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it, that I hadn’t had [a home run] yet,” Crawford said. “Hopefully, it opens the floodgates a little bit. I’ve had some better at-bats lately, and I’m putting better contact on the ball, so hopefully I can keep that going.”
There is precedent for such a resurgence, as Crawford also endured a slow start last season, hitting .188 in March and April before breaking out of the slump in a big way. He rebounded by batting .412 in May, setting off a torrid stretch that helped him earn his second career All-Star selection.
“I think with a couple small adjustments that I’ve been making and kind of trying to get that feeling back that I had last May and June, I feel pretty confident that I can start hitting again,” Crawford said.
Two days after erasing an eight-run deficit to emerge with a wild 12-11 win in Friday’s series opener, the Giants again tapped into their resiliency, as the Reds crushed back-to-back-to-back home runs off Jeff Samardzija to surge to a 4-0 lead in the first inning.
But Samardzija settled in, retiring the final 13 batters he faced and giving San Francisco's bats a chance to rally. Castillo, a former Giants prospect and the reigning National League Pitcher of the Month, didn’t allow a hit through the first five innings, but San Francisco came back to tie the game with a four-run sixth that was capped by Posey’s three-run home run.
Crawford then delivered the decisive blow in the ninth, completing a rally that Bochy said he believed was nearly as impressive as Friday night’s historic comeback, given the pedigree of the opposing pitcher.
“That’s awesome to see,” Samardzija said. “Without a doubt, we’re a lot better team when Crawford is out there playing and being the usual Crawford. He’s so talented, you know he’s going to be right back there in no time. You probably saw it start today.”