NEW YORK -- When third baseman Conor Gillaspie came up with a pair of runners on base and one out in a scoreless game during the ninth inning of the Giants' 3-0 win over the Mets in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night, San Francisco manager Bruce
NEW YORK -- When third baseman Conor Gillaspie came up with a pair of runners on base and one out in a scoreless game during the ninth inning of the Giants' 3-0 win over the Mets in the National League Wild Card Game on Wednesday night, San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy had already sent Jarrett Parker into the on-deck circle to hit for Madison Bumgarner.
Gillaspie then blistered a high sinker thrown by Mets reliever Jeurys Familia over the right-center-field fence at Citi Field.
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Bochy immediately pulled back Parker and let Bumgarner hit. The left-hander flied out to the warning track in left-center, then went out and pitched a perfect ninth inning to finish his four-hit shutout.
When Bumgarner met Gillaspie back in the dugout, he had these words for him: "I appreciate it. We all appreciate it."
And with that, the three-time World Series-champion Giants moved on to a matchup with the Cubs in a best-of-five NL Division Series beginning at Wrigley Field on Friday. FS1 will broadcast Game 1 live at 9 p.m. ET/6 PT.
Gillaspie is just another in a long line of previously unheralded players who have helped the Giants find postseason success. In 2010, it was Cody Ross, a late-season waiver pickup who was MVP of the NL Championship Series. In 2012, it was trade acquisition Marco Scutaro, who also won NLCS MVP honors. In 2014, Travis Ishikawa returned to hit the walk-off homer that clinched an NLCS win over the Cardinals.
This year, it was Gillaspie, a first-round pick for the Giants in the 2008 Draft behind Buster Posey, who returned to the team this spring and wasn't even supposed to be starting Wednesday night at third base. He did because of an ongoing hamstring injury to Eduardo Núñez.
Gillaspie made the most of the opportunity, hitting Familia's 1-1 pitch out of the ballpark.
"To be able to come into a situation like this and just barrel the ball is -- yeah, it went out of the park, but to be able to just come in and have your team behind you and have staff believe in you when somebody goes down, I can't thank this organization enough," Gillaspie said.
In Statcast™ terminology, a barreled ball is the kind of batted ball that, based on the combination of exit velocity and launch angle, generally results in an expected batting average of at least .500 and an expected slugging percentage of at least 1.500. The average barreled ball has an .822 average and 2.836 slugging percentage. His batted ball was definitely "barreled."
Gillaspie's homer had an exit velocity of 103.2 mph and a launch angle of 26 degrees, according to Statcast™.
Furthermore, it came on a 96.4-mph sinker that was the fastest pitch Gillaspie has hit out since 2013. Coming into the game, he had hit only 31 career homers, six this season.
It was one of those magic moments that a journeyman player like Gillaspie can only dream of, and it came exactly one year after he was released and granted free agency by the Angels.
"I can't thank this organization enough," Gillaspie said. "There's plenty of guys who could have gone out there and played when we have a man down, and the reality is they chose me and they gave me the opportunity. I'll be forever grateful for that because obviously it worked out. Just to be able to play in a postseason game is something I'll never forget."
<ahref="mailto:[email protected]">Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.</ahref="mailto:[email protected]">