LOS ANGELES — Jakob Junis was drafted a dozen years ago and has made nearly 300 professional appearances in the minors and big leagues. Until Friday, he didn’t have a save, and the box score says the first one was an easy one.
Junis faced three batters in the bottom of the 11th inning at Dodger Stadium and didn’t allow a hit or a run. He struck out Freddie Freeman to clinch a 7-5 win for the Giants.
“Just how you draw it up,” he said, laughing.
Junis’ second out came on one of the most bizarre plays in recent history for the Giants. A seemingly harmless pop-up on the infield turned into a 29-second debacle for both sides. The Giants had notable blunders from rookie Casey Schmitt, who dropped the ball, and Junis, who fired it down the right field line when he had no hope of getting an out.
The Dodgers countered by fumbling what could have been a golden opportunity to once again tie the game. Instead of taking advantage of the mistakes and having two in scoring position for Freddie Freeman, they ended up with just one runner on and two outs
The play still had the Giants shaking their heads long after a wild win at Dodger Stadium was official. Manager Gabe Kapler watched it several times before talking to reporters and still didn’t really know how to give an explanation.
“I don’t know what to say about it,” he said. “It was just so weird.”
Brandon Crawford called it one of the strangest plays he’s seen in his 13-year career. With more than 1,600 games under his belt, he’s clearly the best choice to try and sum it up.
“Initially I was covering third. When I saw Mookie coming, I knew we had to get one of them,” he explained. “That was kind of a priority when I saw Mookie going back to second. That’s when Yaz threw the ball into me and I figured he would be the easiest out, so that’s why I was running him back.
“But I mean, he was obviously the most important baserunner. We had to get one of the baserunners out, and then obviously Thairo made the right decision there throwing home. And Junis — a big part of the play was him covering third, so we were able to get an out.”
Kapler singled Estrada and Yastrzemski out for staying under control amid the chaos. Yastrzemski, the right fielder, ran the ball all the way back to the infield dirt, which perhaps caused some of the confusion on the other side. Estrada made a strong throw to the plate to cut rookie Michael Busch off when it seemed he might have an opening to score.
“I felt like once the ball was in Craw’s hands, something good was going to happen,” Kapler said.
It took a while, but the Giants finally got under control and got an important out. In the other clubhouse, Betts took full responsibility.
“I saw the play wrong,” he told Dodgers reporters.
A lot of people did, including Junis, who recovered after an initial misplay. He looked up at some point and saw there “was nobody within 100 feet of third,” so he covered the bag, which proved vital. He ended up making the tag for the out, but that didn’t bring much clarity afterward as he tried to digest it all.
“I literally threw it and I was so shocked that I threw the ball, let alone into right field. I don’t know if I’ve ever done that before,” he said, laughing. “I was just so shocked that I did it and dumbfounded at what was transpiring that I didn’t even know what was happening behind me.”
Junis said he was “super thankful” that the mistake didn’t cost the Giants. He recovered to throw a nasty slider past Freeman, pumping his fists as the game finally ended. That made it a lot easier to laugh a few minutes later, including at how the play ended.
“I think I threw it over to third after that (out), too,” Junis said (he did). “I don’t know. I just couldn’t keep the ball in my hands on that play.”