SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford stared at Joe Panik's drive into the right-center-field gap in the 13th inning Monday night and wouldn't move. Crawford, who was standing near second base, has seen far too many hits like Panik's result in outs while playing at AT&T Park.But this time the ball
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford stared at Joe Panik's drive into the right-center-field gap in the 13th inning Monday night and wouldn't move. Crawford, who was standing near second base, has seen far too many hits like Panik's result in outs while playing at AT&T Park.
But this time the ball kept sailing, and Panik lifted his arm in the air as Crawford sprinted home to score the game-winning run. In an elimination game that stretched on for five hours and four minutes, the Giants survived, outlasting the Cubs, 6-5, in Game 3 of the National League Division Series. Game 4 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET/5:30 p.m. PT on FS1.
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"That ball hung up a little longer than I wanted it to," said Panik. "I knew I hit it well and I knew it was going to at least get off the wall, but it felt like forever for that thing to get off the wall."
The AT&T Park crowd held its collective breath as the ball sailed in the air. While the Giants had received a pile of contributions from their offense to get to this point, they'd also received just as many unlucky breaks.
Hunter Pence crushed a Jake Arrieta belt-high sinker 108 mph, according to Statcast™, for an out in the third inning. Buster Posey knocked a liner down the right-field line almost just as hard for an out in the ninth.
But, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, the club found a way. And once again, Conor Gillaspie led the charge.
The third baseman stepped to the plate against Aroldis Chapman in the eighth with the Giants trailing by one and lined a two-run triple into the right-center-field gap.
"I looked up, I honestly had no idea where it was," said Gillaspie. "I knew I hit it good, had no idea where it was. It's a crazy game, sometimes you get him, sometimes you don't."
Gillaspie had never seen a 100-mph fastball before that at-bat. He'd never faced Chapman, either. But he continued his improbable postseason and now has five of the Giants' 11 RBIs.
"For a left-handed hitter to catch up with that kind of velocity, that's pretty impressive, and he smoked it," Bochy said. "And, I mean, he just has come through with some of the biggest hits down the stretch here."
Added Brandon Belt: "It's unbelievable. It's hard to write a script like that, he's been great for us the last week of the season and now in the postseason. Just the calm he stays in and those clutch hits."
This time, Gillaspie's breakthrough performance wasn't enough. Panik became the latest Giant to take advantage of a postseason opportunity, smacking a line drive off the ballpark's arcade in the 13th to help the club win its 10th consecutive elimination game.
"We survive, we find ways to win," Belt said. "We've still got an uphill battle, but we have full confidence in our team right now."
Justin Wise is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area.