Yastrzemski Hits First Walk-Off Homer

Independent/San Francisco Giants
Mike Yastrzemski.
Mike Yastrzemski. Independent/San Francisco Giants

Mike Yastrzemski may have local Mets fans cringing.

The 28-year-old centerfielder smacked a walk-off home run on a 3-2 count, 89-MPH Robert Gsellman changeup in the bottom of the 12th inning Sunday to give the San Francisco Giants a 3-2 win. It also gave the Giants their first series win over the Mets since 2014. All three wins came in extra innings.

The grandson of Hall of Fame slugger and Bridgehampton native Carl Yastrzemski, who had 14 career walk-off RBI and produced his first on his 10th career in 1961, is having a breakout rookie season, racking up nine homers, 27 RBI, and slashing .259/.303/.500 in 48 games.

“I was trying to stay aggressive,” Yastrzemski told NBC Sports following the July 21 win, where he was greeted with not one but two ice bucket baths from teammates. “I was trying to put the barrel on the ball.”

Although the ball barely cleared the left field wall, the 5-11 rookie redeemed his team, which won despite squandering a massive opportunity in the bottom of the 11th, failing to score with two men on base and no outs. Neither got there with a hit though, with the last before Yastrzemski’s game-winning hit coming from third baseman Zach Green, who hit an RBI-single that scored catcher Buster Posey in the fourth inning to knot the game 2-2.

Posey had two hits and scored twice to help the surging Giants, and Green added a single in his major league debut at-bat. Starting southpaw Conner Menez struck out six in five innings in his introduction to the big leagues, allowing solo dingers to Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario in the second inning. After he fanned Pete Alonso with a 91-MPH fastball for the second out of the third inning, the Mets slugger (33 home runs) snapped the bat over his knee like it was a twig.

Yastrzemski, who began his MLB career less than two months ago, and was nearly optioned just a few weeks ago, said he was happy for his friends.

“They did such a great job, they were so poised,” he said. “I remember how jittery I was, and neither of them looked nervous. It looked like it was just another day at the park. So, to see them come out here, make their debuts, and have a huge impact was awesome.”

Mets lefty starter Steven Matz, who hails from Setauket, allowed six hits and two runs in six innings with six strikeouts (Yastrzemski in the second) and one walk. Winless since June 8, Matz retired the last six batters he faced — including the final three by strikeout.

But it seems the Giants are more energized now than ever. The newcomers have helped make manager Bruce Bochy’s final season competitive again. San Francisco has won 15 of its last 18 games, and sits two games out of the final National League Wild Card spot with a 50-50 record.

“It’s fun to watch how the different guys have done something different to help us win,” Bochy said. “To win these close games, it does a lot for a club. The three we won could have gone either way.”

Before an 11-4 loss Saturday, the Giants won 1-0 in the 10th inning and 3-2 in the 16th. Yastrzemski went 0-for-3 Friday and 2-for-3 Thursday, playing left and right field, respectively. He finished Sunday’s game 1-for-4 with a walk, though the rookie’s biggest days of his career to-date came July 15 and 16. In a doubleheader in Colorado, he finished 4-for-10 with a home run, four runs, and three RBI across 19-2 and 2-1 wins. In the third of a four-game series sweep of the Rockies, he went 3-for-5 for his second-best average behind 2-for-3 against the Mets July 18, with a home run, two runs, and three RBI.

“We’ve proved something to ourselves,” Yastrzemski said. “That we can win a game when we’re down. That we can win a game when we go to extra innings. We’re a bunch of grinders right now, and it’s fun to be part of something like this. To be able to come through in these situations gives you all the confidence in the world.”

The Giants hosted the Chicago Cubs for three games starting Monday.

[email protected]

More from Our Sister Sites