MIAMI — What a difference a night makes. Or, maybe more accurately, what a difference a pitcher makes.
Spared — for a day, with tough right-hander Pablo Lopez on deck Saturday — having to face the National League ERA leader, the Giants lineup exploded for a season-highs of five homers and 15 runs, a day after they were blanked and held to just three hits in a series-opening loss. Their 15-6 win Friday night improved their record to 4-4 on their current trip with two more to play.
“I think it’s a confidence boost for this club,” Kapler said. “Not gonna get super high over this either, just like we weren’t super low over last night’s loss. … I think it’s encouraging right? Anytime you score a bunch of runs and have several big innings, which is another thing we believe leads to winning baseball.”
A game of openers: The Giants’ offensive onslaught ensured that it wouldn’t matter who was wearing orange and black on the mound. Good thing, too, as scheduled starter Alex Cobb was scratched a few hours before first pitch with what the Giants described as lower-back tightness.
Both teams ended up throwing openers, with John Brebbia throwing a scoreless first inning for the Giants. The Marlins replaced scheduled starter Eliezer Hernandez, a right-hander, with left-hander Richard Bleier moments after Cobb was scratched, prompting a lineup change from the Giants.
“No disrespect to the pitcher, but yesterday we did face a Cy Young caliber pitcher,” said Joc Pederson, who contributed one of five Giants home runs. “That makes hitting a little bit harder. We got a lot more pitches to hit that weren’t all at 100 mph, so that makes the game a little easier.”
Brebbia, who celebrated the first start of his career by playing clubhouse DJ and throwing on Beethoven’s Für Elise before the game, was followed by Sean Hjelle, the 6-11 pitching prospect the Giants called up prior to Friday’s game.
Hjelle, making his second and longest major-league appearance, struck out five in three innings of work. He breezed through his first two innings before running into trouble and allowing two runs on a double from Jon Berti in the fourth.
“He threw enough strikes, but for him to be the type of pitcher he can be, he’s going to have to throw more,” Kapler said. “Got contact on the ground — that’s something that’s sort of his signature — but for him to be a force and stick in our rotation, he’s gonna have to throw more strikes than that. But a nice job across the board.”
In response to the Marlins’ opener, the Giants moved Pederson down to sixth in the order, shielding from the left-hander and setting him up to be the first batter Hernandez faced when he entered in the second.
Joc jams: In his second trip to the plate, Pederson launched his 13th home run of the season — and one of four Giants blasts off Hernandez, who has given up the most homers in the majors this season (18). Mike Yastrzemski also contributed a three-run shot to center that capped a four-run fourth inning, and Thairo Estrada outdid Pederson by 2 feet with a 412-foot shot to left in the fifth. Jason Vosler added on with solo shot in the sixth.
“I think that’s what we do really well. We put people in positions to succeed,” Pederson said. “That was the best lineup to give us a chance to win today. We came out and got a run early, then continued to score.”
Estrada’s two-run jack erased the two runs Miami was able to rally for against Hjelle in the bottom of the fourth. Yastrzemski nearly missed his second of the night — a would-be grand slam — in the seventh and had to settle for a two-RBI double; he drove in a team-high five runs. Brandon Crawford nearly matched him with one swing, driving a grand slam to center field that further blew this game open, 15-2, and gave the Giants five home runs in a game for the first time this season.
“A lot of people on this team have not exactly been succeeding like they were last year, and that makes things a little more frustrating. Each individual has really high expectations for themselves, so to be able to see people succeeding, it’s a really good sign for our offense in the coming future,” Pederson said. “We’re able to scrap together three or four runs a game just by grinding out at-bats and playing baseball the right way. When everyone’s swinging the bat like we’re capable of, it’s an extremely powerful offense that can put up double-digit runs every game.”
Pederson’s 13th home run came in his 128th at-bat this season, a rate of one home run every 9.85 at-bats. For comparison, the all-time leader in HR/AB, Mark McGwire, left the yard once every 10.61 at-bats over the course of his career. The all-time home run king Barry Bonds, with whom Pederson had that influential conversation last home stand, had a career HR/AB rate of 12.92.
Take a look at the National League home run leaders and see if anything sticks out:
- Mookie Betts, 16 home runs (197 at-bats)
- C.J. Cron, 14 HR (201 AB)
- Christian Walker, 14 HR (178 AB)
- Pete Alonso, 13 HR (198 AB)
- Austin Riley, 13 HR (202 AB)
- Kyle Schwarber, 13 HR (179 AB)
- Joc Pederson, 13 HR (128 AB)
Just as they masterfully did Friday night with the lineup shakeup, the Giants have protected Pederson from facing lefties all season (against whom his career OPS is .610, compared to .838 vs. RHP), and it has paid off in the most efficient power hitter in the game.
Kurt Kasali … K … K … K: Possibly more incredible than the Giants’ five home runs or 15 runs — both new season-highs — was that it came with one of the nine members of their lineup striking out five times.
Seemingly every player who came to the plate had an answer for Marlins’ pitching Friday night, except catcher Curt Casali, who struck out in all five of his at-bats. Casali, who posted the Giants’ highest OPS during May (1.145), became the seventh player in franchise history to strike out five times in a game.
Banged-up Giants: Through two innings Friday night, the Giants’ injury luck seemingly couldn’t get worse. Their starting pitcher had been scratched, their starting third baseman couldn’t throw, and their star rookie had taken a fastball off his shin that forced him from the game.
Things got better with the results of the X-rays taken on Luis González’s right shin, which came back negative and showed only a bruise. Kapler said after the game that González is day-to-day, and the rookie, who was sporting a nasty bruise and a bit of a limp in the clubhouse, said he hopes to be back Sunday.
However, Cobb is still expected to miss some time with discomfort in his lower back that emanated from his left hamstring, which he said he started feeling after a workout day during the Giants’ series in Philadelphia.
“When I got in the bed, I just couldn’t sleep,” Cobb said. “Felt like a sharp shooting pain in my leg. The next day, like, could barely walk. It was tough. I thought I kind of pulled my hamstring somehow.”
Although Cobb said he was feeling better Friday, the club made sure Hjelle arrived in Miami with plenty of time to spare — he got here from Sacramento around 8 o’clock Thursday night — in case Cobb wasn’t able to go.
Kapler said Cobb’s next start would be pushed back “a couple of spots, might be a little bit more than that.”
Evan Longoria, whose sore right shoulder prevented him from playing third base Friday, went 2-for-4 with a double and drew a walk as the designated hitter.
Source: Paradise Post