It took the Giants five hours and 35 minutes to beat the Rockies 3-2 on Friday night, a feat they finally managed to pull off during the last moments of the 18th inning.
Even when the game was fresh — well before the scoreless 12-inning drought began — it was still a low-scoring one for the clubs. The Rockies put up two runs in the fourth inning on a balk from San Francisco righty Drew Pomeranz and an RBI double from Ian Desmond, while the Giants responded with Evan Longoria‘s run-scoring double play and Joe Panik‘s sac fly in the fourth and sixth, respectively.
The bullpens, meanwhile, looked untouchable: After Chad Bettis and Pomeranz exited in the sixth, 17 different pitchers combined for a dozen scoreless innings and another 32 strikeouts. (The Giants alone had 24 cumulative strikeouts from Pomeranz and their relief corps, so many that they ran out of room to place “K” placards on the right field wall — a task that was soon taken up by fans in a more creative way.)
By the time the game stretched into the 18th inning, the Giants were down to their last reliever and desperate to catch a break. They didn’t have to wait much longer.
Brandon Belt skied a double out to right field that just missed the threshold for a walk-off home run, then positioned himself at third base following an intentional walk to Brandon Crawford and Kevin Pillar‘s long fly out to center. Colorado right-hander DJ Johnson loaded the bases with a second intentional walk to Gerardo Parra, leaving veteran catcher Erik Kratz to step up to the plate with one out and the winning run up for grabs.
In the end, it was exactly the kind of finish you might expect after nearly six hours and a franchise-record 18 innings had passed: Kratz hit a dribbler that just missed the outstretched glove of first baseman Josh Fuentes, center fielder Desmond scooped the ball and threw home to catch Belt at the plate, and… Belt was subsequently called safe after a replay review revealed that Chris Iannetta had taken his foot off home plate when he received the ball.
“I felt like I’d never played baseball before,” Iannetta told MLB.com’s Maria Guardado after the game. “I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much after this one.”
None of his teammates will be sleeping much, either. The two teams are scheduled to meet again for a rematch on Saturday at 4:05 PM EDT.