Pablo Sandoval made his pitching debut and it was glorious

How weird did things get at AT&T Park in San Francisco on Saturday afternoon? Weird enough that Pablo Sandoval, a 31-year-old infielder with 1,126 career hits and zero professional pitching appearances to his name, was the Giants best pitcher.

Read that again. Let it sink in.

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Pablo Sandoval, who’s career arc has been as fascinating as any player in recent memory, added a chapter that no one was expecting.

Not only did Sandoval make his pitching debut in Saturday’s 15-6 loss to the Dodgers, he was positively dominant relative to the four Giants who pitched before him. Facing Max Muncy, Yasmani Grandal and Chris Taylor in the ninth inning, Sandoval retired all three on ground balls.

Sandoval’s perfect inning required only 11 pitches (8 strikes). Meanwhile, starter Christopher Stratton needed 63 pitches just to record four outs.

Needless to say, this was not a pretty game for the Giants all around. Manager Bruce Bochy turned to Sandoval to conserve his bullpen. With Stratton struggling and the Giants usual relievers failing to provide much relief, the game was out of reach by the ninth inning. At that point, there was no sense burning another reliever. Especially with Game 2 of a day-night doubleheader still to come.

The Giants desperation ended up being a gift to the baseball world.

Sandoval’s surprise relief appearance provided a spark in the ballpark, too. Those who stuck around through Game 1 gave him a standing ovation as he walked off the mound, and then again when he came to bat in the bottom of the ninth.

We suspect some, if not most of the cheers were coming from Dodgers fans.

Again, it was a crazy game.

Sandoval probably needed this moment too to really reconnect with Giants. Remember, he left San Francisco in free agency following the 2014 season and didn’t exactly leave on great terms. The reunion, which came after Sandoval fell on his face in Boston, hasn’t been nearly as smooth as his original run. But it felt like old times on Saturday with AT&T Park showering  the man known as “Panda” with love.

Pablo Sandoval’s surprise pitching debut was the Giants gift to the baseball world. (AP)

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Yahoo Sports Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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