Three HRs power Giants to 'road' win in SF

September 17th, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- The turmoil that has defined 2020 has led to three schedule disruptions for the Giants, who have seen games postponed by a protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a COVID-19 scare, and most recently, poor air quality caused by the wildfires that have ravaged the West Coast. 

“We knew there were going to be challenges,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “We knew there would be situations we haven’t had to deal with in Major League seasons past. We have to be good within the construct of whatever the season hands us.” 

Wednesday presented a new challenge: Playing a game at Oracle Park as the road team. But the Giants once again found a way to adjust to unusual circumstances, as , and homered to power the club to a 9-3 series-opening win over the Mariners.

It was the first time the Giants played a road game at home since July 23, 2013, when the Reds “hosted” Game 2 of a doubleheader to make up a July 4 rainout at Cincinnati. 

“We haven’t been dealt the easiest hand, but these guys are incredibly resilient,” Kapler said. “They’re fighters. What the lineup did speaks to that.”   

After scoring only two runs in three consecutive losses to the Padres this past weekend, the Giants’ potent offense returned to form on Wednesday, outhitting the Mariners 15-6 to climb back to .500 (24-24) and tie the Phillies for the top National League Wild Card spot with 12 games left to play. 

Crawford and Alex Dickerson delivered three hits apiece, while Donovan Solano finished 2-for-5 to boost his batting average to .351, putting him behind only the Braves’ Freddie Freeman (.352) in the race for the NL batting title.

“Obviously, the past few days have not been exactly how you draw it up,” Belt said. “I don’t think it’s the best for us physically, being on the road. But it was nice to get back home and get in a comfortable atmosphere and get back to doing what we do best, and that’s going out there and having good at-bats and creating a lot of runs and having good pitching performances.” 

The two clubs were originally slated to face off at T-Mobile Park, but the two-game series was shifted to San Francisco due to concerns over the smoke-choked air in the Pacific Northwest. After flying back to the Bay Area on Tuesday night following their sojourn in Seattle, the Giants attempted to make their opponents feel at home by playing a Mariners hype video on the Oracle Park scoreboard shortly before first pitch. 

The hospitality did not last long for Mariners right-hander Ljay Newsome, who was chased after surrendering five runs over three innings. Newsome, whose previous outing in San Francisco was cut short after he was struck on his pitching hand by a 100 mph comebacker off the bat of Crawford, yielded RBI singles to Solano and Mauricio Dubón over the first two innings and then gave up three more runs in the third on a two-run homer by Belt and a solo shot by Longoria.

The Giants, meanwhile, received an encouraging performance from left-hander Drew Smyly, who struck out eight while giving up three runs over 3 2/3 innings in his first start since Aug. 1. Smyly returned from the injured list last week after missing nearly six weeks with a left finger injury, but he struggled to settle back into a routine after making his first appearance out of the bullpen in San Diego on Thursday and then experiencing consecutive off-days on Monday and Tuesday.

In an attempt to avoid an extended layoff before his start, Smyly stuck around Oracle Park after the Giants landed in San Francisco late on Tuesday and logged a midnight throwing session with fellow lefty Tyler Anderson. The overtime seemed to pay off for Smyly, who tallied 15 whiffs and used his curveball to record seven of his eight strikeouts against the Mariners.  

“I think I just need to be a little more efficient, try to have quicker innings,” said Smyly, who departed after throwing 78 pitches. “But I think my stuff is playing really well right now. We’re getting a lot of swing and misses where it’s hard to induce early contact.”

Given the abbreviated schedule, Smyly is lined up to make only two more starts for the Giants in the regular season, but his return comes just as the club is preparing to make its final push for the playoffs down the stretch. The 31-year-old veteran should provide a nice boost for San Francisco’s rotation, which now features plenty of upside with Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman, Logan Webb and Anderson rounding out the staff.  

“The whole season has been really weird,” Smyly said. “A lot of weird stuff going on with COVID and then now we’ve got the air quality affecting the West Coast. It’s definitely different with everything going on. But it’s still a playoff race. We’re still right there in it. We’re trying to hang on and just win these games down the stretch. The adrenaline has definitely picked up. We’re in the home stretch. It’s just up for us. We’re in the driver’s seat, and we just have to go out and win and hold on to that Wild Card. It’s an exciting time to play. This is what we all suit up for. We’re just ready to finish strong.”