Tauchman (slam), Crawford (2 HRs) power SF

June 9th, 2021

ARLINGTON -- Mike Tauchman’s first career grand slam couldn’t have come at a better time for the Giants.

Tauchman crushed it off right-hander Josh Sborz with two outs in the eighth inning to lift the Giants to a dramatic 9-4 win over the Rangers on Tuesday night at Globe Life Field.

“At least from our vantage point -- his teammates, our coaching staff -- we always believe something good is going to happen when Tauch is at the plate,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He works really good at-bats. He swings at appropriate pitches. He only attacks pitches that he feels like he can drive, and he hasn’t been rewarded for that very often since he’s been a Giant. That can be really frustrating, so to see him have that moment, I was personally very, very happy for him.”

With the win, the Giants improved to a Major League-best 38-22 over their first 60 games, a nine-game bump from their 29-31 record at the end of last year’s pandemic-shortened campaign. After falling one win shy of the postseason in 2020, the Giants now find themselves atop the National League West and vying for their first postseason berth since 2016.

Tauchman entered Tuesday batting only .184 with a .589 OPS over his first 34 games, but he’s now emerged as a key protagonist in two of the Giants’ wildest victories of the year. On May 29 at Dodger Stadium, Tauchman made a leaping catch at the left-field wall to rob Albert Pujols of a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Giants a chance to rally for an 8-5 win in extra innings.

He came up big again against the Rangers, who took a 4-2 lead after scoring three runs off left-handers Alex Wood and Jarlín García in the sixth. Still, the Giants mounted the decisive rally in the eighth after Brandon Belt singled and Brandon Crawford and Steven Duggar walked to load the bases for Tauchman, who had gone hitless in his first three at-bats of the night and was mired in a 3-for-32 slump against right-handers.

But Tauchman promptly drove a 3-1 fastball from Sborz over the right-field fence to put the Giants back in front, 6-4, and collect his third home run of the year.

“I haven’t been playing the way that I wanted to at the plate, and that happens,” Tauchman said. “That’s why we play 162 games. I was just trying to have a good at-bat for the boys there and got a good pitch to hit. I got fortunate to put a good swing on it and come through. Obviously, it’s never easy when you’re not performing the way you want to, so it felt good.”

Acquired from the Yankees in exchange for left-hander Wandy Peralta and infield prospect Connor Cannon in April, Tauchman has impressed with his defense since arriving in San Francisco, but he’s still working to find the offensive form he showed in 2019, when he hit .277 with an .865 OPS and 13 home runs over 87 games with New York. While the results haven’t shown up so far, the Giants have praised Tauchman for his approach at the plate and the overall quality of his at-bats.

“I know Tauchman had been struggling a little bit, but I feel like he had been putting up really good at-bats for a while now and wasn’t really getting rewarded for it,” Crawford said. “When he got that hit tonight, I think we were all pretty pumped up for him.”

Tauchman’s clutch home run secured a happy ending for Crawford, who set a franchise record by making his 1,326th career appearance at shortstop for the Giants on Tuesday and capped his historic night with his fifth career multi-homer game. Crawford launched a tiebreaking homer off Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles in the sixth and then broke the game open with a three-run shot off Taylor Hearn in the top of the ninth.

“You try to win every single game you play, but I think it was a really amazing accomplishment for him, whether we won the game or not,” Tauchman said. “I know that shortstop is an incredibly demanding position, and he’s been one of the best in the game for a really, really long time, so it’s an amazing accomplishment for him. We were happy to get the win, and he had a huge night at the plate as well.”