The Giants walk-off, and Kyle Harrison and Patrick Bailey make you feel better about future



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On a chilly Friday night, a sizable crowd of Giants fans experienced a perfect spectrum of baseball emotions. They went from hope to curiosity to boredom to frustration to terror to elation, and it ended with everyone hopping around and high-fiving strangers.

That’s all you really need to know about Friday’s 3-0 win. But there sure was more underneath the surface.

The Pirates have a coterie of ex-Giants and former Giants prospects, so when they come into town these days, it’s easy to get heavy and focus on a bigger picture. They have Joey Bart and Bryan Reynolds. There’s Connor Joe and Andrew McCutchen, who started in back-to-back Opening Day outfields for the Giants. They even have a Bednar and a Stratton in the bullpen, just to keep your headspace in Giants first-round history.

The Pirates have long been in the front and center of the Giants’ karass. Barry Bonds, Jason Schmidt, Javier López, Ryan Vogelsong, the 1971 NLCS, the 2012 Wild Card Game, Rennie Stennett. Heck, when the Giants traded Bill Madlock to the Pirates, it set into a motion a chain of events that ended up with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow on the Giants. So when former-catcher-of-the-future Joey Bart is behind the plate while current-catcher-of-the-future Patrick Bailey hits a three-run, walk-off homer, it feels extra-weighty.

More importantly, though: On a chilly Friday night, a large crowd of Giants fans experienced a perfect spectrum of baseball emotions. They watched Kyle Harrison peel his opponents apart like a perfectly ripe banana. They watched Bailey catch a great game and then end it in the ninth. Camilo Doval pulled everyone’s heart out of their chest and pretended that it was a saxophone for a bit. Then he put it back in, fuller than ever. The game ended with everyone hopping around and high-fiving strangers.

If the Giants are ever going to challenge the Dodgers and the rest of the National League, they’ll need the homegrown players they have, and there’s no room for worrying about the homegrown players they don’t have anymore. In Friday’s game, Bailey called and caught an absolute gem from Harrison, and then he won the game with his bat. The Giants can’t rely on free agents to save them. The call is going to have to come from inside the house.

It’s just one game, but Friday night wasn’t a bad start.

Harrison’s outing — 6 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 7 K — was the best of his major-league career so far. He’s pitched at least six innings in four different starts this season, which is as many six-inning outings as he’s ever had at any level in his professional career. He did it once in Triple A last year; he’s done it four times in the last month. He’s progressing as well as the Giants could have possibly hoped.

The most impressive part of Harrison’s season so far has been his command. Keith Law has always been high on Harrison, but there were also concerns about his mechanics. He wrote, “It’s not an easy delivery to repeat, so his command will probably always be a question,” which made sense. Harrison’s always been a tantalizing prospect, but he was also saddled with the ol’ if he could just hit his spots caveat.

He’s hitting his spots. Whether it’s because of experience, repetition, trust in his fastball or a Manhattan Project-style plan from the front office, Harrison is throwing strikes, and he’s throwing them way more than expected. He came into Friday’s game with the fourth-best walk rate in the National League. He left it with the second-best.

But Harrison left the game in a scoreless tie. He could only do so much, and he turned it over to Ryan Walker, who got two quick outs, but struggled to get the third. I’m not much of a bullpen second-guesser, but it was hard to believe Walker was still in the game after drilling McCutchen in the back on a 3-1 pitch, with Tyler Rogers warm in the bullpen.

It worked out. I’m not sure if it will ever work out quite this way again:

Oh, Reynolds definitely learned that in the Giants’ system. Nate Schierholtz left an instruction manual behind and everything.

That might not have been the best thing to happen for the Giants in a bases loaded situation against Reynolds, though. Doval came into a tie game and immediately loaded the bases, getting only one out. Reynolds came up again, swinging a bat charged with narratives. It worked out even better for the Giants.

Do you see that slight turn toward second after Doval gets the ball? If he throws the ball toward second base, he throws it so high and far away from the target that it hits the Coke bottle behind the bleachers. The most difficult thing in sports is making an accurate throw to second base on a comebacker. Scientists and philosophers will never agree why. It just is.

Doval made a great decision, though, and Wilmer Flores made a brilliant catch to complete the double play on the back end, risking life and limb to do so. It felt like the Giants were going to head into the bottom of the ninth, down 3-0, but they had a new, scoreless lease on life.

Bailey took advantage.

Look at the throng in the arcade. Hot dang, it’s been a while. The Giants won, and it ended with everyone hopping around and high-fiving strangers. It had the potential to be a brutally frustrating game.

Instead, it instantly became the best game of the 2024 season, and it has a strong chance to hold that title for months, if not indefinitely. The Pirates have a lot of players who can make the Giants feel worse than they already might have, but none of that mattered. The young, electric cornerstone of future Giants rotations threw the ball real nice-like to the young, exciting catcher of the future. Then that catcher hit a walk-off dinger to continue his brilliant offensive season.

The Giants defeated the Pirates, 3-0, on Friday night. It was just one game.

It sure felt like more, though. It’s easy to imagine a world where Patrick Bailey and Kyle Harrison are a part of Giants lore in 2034. Here’s an all-time game to look back on. Here’s where it might have started.

(Photo of Bailey with Bart in the background: Darren Yamashita / USA Today)





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