By Jonathan Hawthorne and AJ Cassavell
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval's journey back to the Giants' organization wasn't easy by any stretch. But the third baseman sent the 2017 season off in dramatic fashion on Sunday, launching a walk-off home run to lift the Giants to a victory in the season finale over the Padres, 5-4.
"It brought back good memories when he hit that ball, I'm not going to lie," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Sandoval had one objective in the at-bat -- a home run to end the year.
"Rounding the bases, I wanted to cry," Sandoval said. "I don't know what's going on with me next year, but I just focus to work during the offseason and to come back stronger and do everything I can. … Ending [the year] that way was special."
Sandoval's solo shot, his ninth homer of the season and fifth since joining the Giants in August, traveled 426 feet, according to Statcast™, off Padres reliever Phil Maton. The player they call "Panda" picked up Giants starter Johnny Cueto, who took a no-decision after allowing a season-high 12 hits in five innings.
"They just looked determined to win the ballgame," Bochy said of his team, which overcame a 4-1 deficit. "We got down early against a team that's been tough on us this year. But they were resilient. They battled back. … They found a way."
Padres starter Luis Perdomo lasted seven innings while allowing four runs. Travis Jankowski went 3-for-4 and Hunter Renfroe finished 2-for-4 with a homer for San Diego, which finished 71-91 and will pick seventh in next June's Draft. Renfroe, who spent a month in the Minors after a midseason slump, finished the year with 26 homers -- a franchise record for a rookie.
"Good to see him square up Johnny Cueto twice today," said Padres manager Andy Green. "Steps in the right direction. There's more steps for him to take. He knows he's a better hitter against righties than he showed this year. He's going to take it as a personal mission this offseason to take steps forward."
San Francisco, having already avoided 100 losses, finished 64-98. Though they won, they matched the Tigers for the worst record in the Majors. But Detroit owns the tiebreaker for next year's Draft, so San Francisco will have the No. 2 overall pick.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Tripling into history: The Padres' final run of 2017 came in a fitting way. Perdomo tripled leading off the fourth, and Jankowski brought him home with a single. Perdomo's triple, his fourth of the season, was historic in two ways. The right-hander's four this season are the most by a pitcher since Robin Roberts in 1955. One of Roberts' triples came as a pinch-hitter, though, making Perdomo the first player to hit four from the pitcher's spot since Bob Feller in '41. Perdomo's home-to-third time, 11.52 seconds, was the fastest such mark by a pitcher since Statcast™ debuted in '15.
"Right when I hit it, I was thinking about [a triple], because I know I have good speed," Perdomo said. "Every time I hit the ball, I'm trying to go hard about the box."
Pence pulling one more in: Known across the Majors for his effort, Giants right fielder Hunter Pence delivered once again in Game 162. Pence made a tremendous diving catch to end the Padres' half of the seventh, muting a threat. But the 34-year-old, who has missed time this month with lower back spasms, walked off the field gingerly and was replaced by Gorkys Hernandez. More >
"We have some work to do, there's no sugarcoating this. You lose 98 games, we have some things to fix. Forget the injuries, whatever. I think you look at the numbers on both sides, we have to get better -- especially in our division. You look at the years L.A. had, Arizona and Colorado. We've got a lot of work to do. We'll be relentless with this work to get back on track." -- Bochy, on the upcoming offseason
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Giants unsuccessfully challenged Jankowski's ninth-inning steal of second base. A replay review determined the call stands.
Jonathan Hawthorne is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area who covered the Giants on Sunday.