'He's a big deal': Crawford swats clutch HR

Giants' longtime shortstop notches winning hit in second straight game

April 11th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- For the second consecutive day, shortstop came through to deliver the decisive hit for the Giants, crushing a go-ahead, three-run home run to propel his hometown club to a 4-3 win over the Rockies on Saturday afternoon at Oracle Park.

The Giants trailed, 3-1, entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but their offense finally began to stir after Alex Dickerson and pinch-hitter Wilmer Flores drew walks against Rockies left-hander Ben Bowden to put a pair of runners on with one out for Crawford.

The 34-year-old veteran capitalized on the left-on-left matchup, pulling a 92.4 mph fastball at the bottom of the zone over the right-field wall to give the Giants a 4-3 lead. Crawford’s second home run of the season rocketed off his bat at 107 mph and traveled an estimated 385 feet, according to Statcast.

“It’s kind of the same approach as yesterday, where you’re trying to look for a ball over the plate,” Crawford said. “If he’s going to throw one off the plate, you take the walk and load up the bases. You want to see it kind of out over the plate and try to put a good swing on it, and that’s what I did.”

Crawford also produced the game-winning hit on Friday, when he drilled a go-ahead, two-run double to break a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and lift the Giants to a 3-1 win in their home opener.

“Craw wants every big at-bat, every big moment, and for good reason,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Put simply, I believe in him in those moments.”

The Giants have used more platoons since Kapler took over as manager last season, but the left-handed-hitting Dickerson and Crawford ultimately stayed in to face Bowden because the club was a little short-handed on the bench. Outfielder Austin Slater and backup catcher Curt Casali didn’t appear in Saturday’s game, though Kapler declined to provide more details on the situation and said he expected the club to be back at full strength Sunday.

Dickerson logged only 12 plate appearances against lefties in 2020, but on Saturday he drew a seven-pitch leadoff walk to help set up Crawford’s big hit.

“He’s done it a lot throughout his career,” Dickerson said of Crawford. “It’s not a surprise by any means.”

A Bay Area native, Crawford received one of the loudest ovations during pregame introductions on Friday, and his clutch hitting has given fans even more reason to celebrate as they return to Oracle Park for the first time since September 2019.

Crawford’s wife, Jalynne, and the couple’s four young kids were among the 6,176 fans in the stands on Saturday, making the heroics even more special for the Giants’ longtime shortstop.

“They’ve loved it,” Crawford said. “It’s funny how the kids pay attention a little more as they’ve gotten older. Just seeing how excited they are to see me after the game. Watching some of the videos that my wife’s taken of them either during or right after one of the big hits, it’s pretty fun.”

Crawford has acknowledged that he’s trying to savor every moment this year, as he’s entering the final guaranteed year of his contract with the Giants, the team he’s rooted for since he was a kid. With two World Series rings, three Gold Glove Awards, two All-Star nods and a Silver Slugger Award, Crawford has already cemented his status as the best shortstop in San Francisco history, inspiring countless local youth baseball players to mimic his style on the field.

“As a kid, you always wanted to try to grow your hair out to be like him,” said right-hander Logan Webb, a product of nearby Rocklin, Calif. “I know for me growing up, I think every high school team I faced, the shortstop had long hair. I think that’s probably because of him. He’s a big deal in this area.”

Webb came away with a no-decision after giving up three runs over five innings in his second start of the year. Relievers Caleb Baragar, Reyes Moronta, Tyler Rogers and Jake McGee combined to fire four scoreless innings to seal the victory for San Francisco, which has now won three in a row and will aim to complete a three-game sweep of the Rockies behind right-hander Anthony DeSclafani on Sunday.

McGee has already emerged as a key piece for the Giants, as he’s appeared in six of the first eight games and has tossed 5 1/3 hitless innings while converting a Major League-high four saves.

"He’s been really nice out there in the ninth,” Dickerson said. “He’s been outstanding. Every bit as advertised. I’ve been on the other side of those at-bats, and he’s not comfortable to face. I’m glad he’s on our team.”