SAN FRANCISCO – Everyone expressed concern for Buster Posey.
“It makes your heart stop for a second, seeing him like that,” Ryan Vogelsong said.
“Oh, of course you worry,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
They were not talking about Posey’s swing, his homerless spring training or his slow start. They were not talking about his strikeouts or the ground-ball double plays with runners on base.
With Posey, the monsoon always comes. And it rained hard on a warm Monday night at AT&T Park, when Posey crushed three pitches – the last of which slipped over the center field fence for a tying home run.
Brandon Belt contributed the walk-off single as the Giants claimed a 5-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. It was their sixth comeback win among their 13 victories this season.
[Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 5, D'backs 4]
And their cleanup hitter is clearing his throat.
First, though, he had to shake off a painful shot to the neck when Vogelsong’s pitch took a hard bounce off the dirt and caught the catcher just below the mask in the second inning. Only then did Vogelsong and Bochy express concern, and not for long.
“You don’t ever want to see that,” Vogelsong said. “But he’s tough. I saw him get hit worse than that in San Diego last year. He’s tough back there.”
Said Bochy: “It’s always a dangerous situation when he exposes himself by leaving his head up like that. But he came out of it fine.”
Posey had no voice after that game at Petco Park. He spoke in strained tones after this one, too.
His bat had a boom mike attached to it. His double to deepest right-center field in the first inning, the last of three consecutive the Giants hit in a tying rally, would’ve been a home run in most parks. His deep drive down the right field line would’ve been another RBI double if not for the flying, dirt scattering exploits of Cody Ross.
Then came the eighth, against hard-throwing David Hernandez. Posey hit one of his patented shots – a drive to center that just kept carrying and carrying, until it slipped from view.
“Just looking for something over the plate I could handle,” said Posey, who had gone homerless from Game 4 of the World Series to Sunday, when he hit his first of the year. “Like I told you guys in Milwaukee, I started feeling good then. I felt I’ve had a good approach and I’ll try to keep it there.”
Not that his teammates were worried.
“He’s been hitting the ball hard,” Vogelsong said. “He’s way too good a hitter to be held homerless for a whole season. His swing is way too good.”
And when those rains come, everyone else in the Giants lineup benefits. A struggling player feels a little less pressure to fight out of a slump. Opposing pitchers feed more fastballs, knowing they don’t want to face Posey with runners on base. Everyone’s jug fills up.
Posey couldn’t have picked a better time, with the Diamondbacks eager to make a statement in the first of what should be 19 hard-fought meetings. This wasn’t the Giants’ biggest comeback of the year, but given their opponent, it was their best.
“Both these teams,” said Posey, “we know what each other brings to the table.”