Solano PH HR gives SF Bay series win

Late comeback helps Giants become first team to 80 wins

August 23rd, 2021

OAKLAND -- One day after LaMonte Wade Jr. came off the bench to deliver a game-winning home run for the Giants, it was 's turn to come through in a pinch on Sunday afternoon.

Solano drilled a go-ahead, pinch-hit home run off left-hander A.J. Puk with two outs in the eighth inning as the Giants came back to stun the A’s, 2-1, for the second straight day and clinch a Bay Bridge Series victory at the Coliseum.

The Giants were held to two hits over seven innings by A’s right-hander Frankie Montas, but their offense jolted to life when manager Gabe Kapler began to deploy the club’s right-handed bench bats against Puk in the eighth.

Austin Slater, pinch-hitting for Tommy La Stella, got the rally started with a two-out walk, and Kapler then sent Solano up to hit for Wade, who lifted the Giants to a win with a pinch-hit, two-run blast off A’s closer Lou Trivino in the ninth on Saturday. Solano jumped on a first-pitch sinker from Puk, driving it 381 feet out to left field to erase a one-run deficit and put San Francisco in front, 2-1, a lead the club wouldn't relinquish.

The Giants became the first team in AL/NL history to hit pinch-hit home runs in the eighth inning or later to erase a deficit and take a lead in back-to-back games, according to Sportradar.

“I had never faced that pitcher before,” Solano said in Spanish. “I know he has a good fastball and slider. I was looking for a fastball, something close to my body. That was the plan, and fortunately, I was able to put a good swing on it.”

It was Solano’s first career pinch-hit home run and the 14th of the year for the Giants, tying the franchise record previously set in 1974 and tied in 2001. San Francisco leads the Majors in pinch-hit homers this year, a sign of the team’s depth and its ability to play matchups and capitalize on platoon advantages late in games.

“Our guys are ready for those moments,” Kapler said. “They know what they’re looking for. They know what needs to be done.”

The A’s threatened by putting runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, but Tyler Rogers induced a groundout from Matt Olson to end the inning. Jake McGee then worked around a one-out double to Josh Harrison to post a scoreless ninth and secure the Giants’ Major League-best 80th victory of the year, extending their lead for first place in the National League West to 2 1/2 games over the Dodgers, whose nine-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday.    

“We lost two in a row and people started freaking out a little bit, which is crazy,” right-hander said. “But that’s the type of division we’re in, the type of race that we’re in. Our hitters and our team bring it every single day. We’re never out of a game, and I think we’ve been proving that.”

Solano’s heroics ensured that the Giants didn’t squander another brilliant effort from Webb, who fired six innings of one-run ball to lower his ERA to 1.63 over his last 12 starts. The 24-year-old right-hander leaned on his sinker-slider combination to scatter five hits and strike out seven, taking yet another step toward establishing himself as a dependable frontline starter for San Francisco. 

“I think the emphasis today was mainly getting the two-seamer going early,” Webb said. “They’re a pretty patient team, so we wanted to try to flip the script on them a little bit and make them start swinging early.”

Webb and Montas matched each other with five scoreless innings before Oakland broke through in the sixth, when Tony Kemp hit a leadoff double and scored on an RBI single by Mark Canha to give the A’s a 1-0 lead. Canha took second on Wade’s overthrow to the plate, but the Giants caught a break when Starling Marte’s subsequent grounder hit off Canha’s foot. Marte was credited with an infield single, but Canha was called out following an umpire conference.

Marte stole second and advanced to third on Matt Olson’s groundout, but Webb left him stranded by retiring Jed Lowrie to end the inning. Webb departed after throwing 92 pitches, giving way to Dominic Leone in the seventh. With the victory, the Giants improved to 15-4 in Webb’s starts this year and have won 11 of his last 12 outings.

Webb’s ascent couldn’t come at a better time for San Francisco, whose starting pitching depth is being tested by the injuries to right-handers Johnny Cueto (flexor strain) and Anthony DeSclafani (ankle inflammation). Kevin Gausman has also looked vulnerable following a brilliant first half, and Alex Wood has endured some ups and downs as he’s navigated his heaviest workload since 2018.

With DeSclafani out, San Francisco will likely turn to rookie Sammy Long to start their series opener against the Mets at Citi Field on Tuesday night. Cueto is also expected to return from the injured list and pitch on Wednesday as the Giants continue their challenging stretch of 19 consecutive games against contending teams. The Giants began that gauntlet by taking series from the Mets and A’s, and they’ll aim to sustain that momentum as they head to New York for their final East Coast swing of the regular season.