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Giants beat Angels when liner hits baserunner

Panik in position to field grounder, but Featherston can't avoid ball

SAN FRANCISCO -- Matt Joyce's two-out line drive in a one-run game in Saturday's ninth inning was hit directly into the shift, so chances are Giants second baseman Joe Panik gobbles it up, fires to first and records the final out regardless.

But Joyce would've loved to see it play out.

"The game's ruthless sometimes," he said after a second straight bitter loss by the Angels at AT&T Park, this one by a 5-4 score. "It doesn't really necessarily care how well you're doing or what your numbers are. But you just have to keep showing up, man."

Joyce probably didn't even expect to bat in the top of the ninth, but his teammates made it interesting. Kole Calhoun hit a two-out RBI single off Jeremy Affeldt and David Freese hit a two-out RBI single off Santiago Casilla, cutting a three-run deficit to one.

So there was Joyce, coming off a long flyout to center field, riding a .135 batting average, batting with runners on the corners and looking for something -- anything -- to get his season going. He turned on a first-pitch fastball from Casilla, lined it to the right side and watched it ricochet off the leg of pinch-runner Taylor Featherston.

Automatic out, game over.

"It's unfortunate that's how the game ended after we got some action going, some good at-bats and got close," Featherston said. "But it's one of those freak baseball things. He hit it on the screws, and I tried my best to get out of the way and couldn't do it."

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a game ended with a ball hitting a baserunner was June 27, 2010, when Jose Tabata's liner struck Pedro Alvarez and the Pirates lost to the A's, 3-2.

Panik -- hours removed from coming up with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth Friday night -- was confident he would've been able to make the play had it not hit Featherston.

"It was hit hard," Panik said. "Especially with the speed of the ball, where I was positioned and everything, if it didn't hit Featherston, I would have got it."

Bruce Bochy has been in more than 2,000 games as a player and manager.

He'd never seen one end like that before.

"First time for me," the Giants' skipper said. "Never seen that. He smoked the ball. The runner really didn't have a chance. But Joe was there. Joe would have got to the ball and I'm sure he would have handled it."

Angels manager Mike Scioscia pretty much agreed. But as starter Hector Santiago said, "You never know what can happen. He can easily boot it and throw it away."

There's some cruel irony in all of this: Joyce has spent the entire year scrounging for hits, and that last play was officially scored a single with an unassisted putout by the second baseman.

"Weird," Joyce said. "Weird how this game works. It really is. I'd much rather have an error and win the game."

Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez.
Read More: San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, Matt Joyce, Joe Panik