Estrada leads the way as offense erupts with 5 HRs

Webb delivers 7 strong frames as Giants even series with 11-run outburst

April 14th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- After going seven games without leaving the yard, the Giants finally rediscovered their power on Saturday night.

went deep twice as part of a five-homer barrage for the Giants, who delivered their best offensive output of the season in an 11-2 rout of the Rays that evened this three-game series at Tropicana Field.

The 11 runs and 13 hits were both season highs for the Giants, restoring some much-needed punch to an offense that had been held to four runs or fewer in 11 of the club’s first 14 games. The deluge was more than enough to back a stellar effort from ace right-hander Logan Webb, who fired seven innings of one-run ball to earn his first win of the season.

“The boys were swinging it today,” Webb said. “They’ve been grinding, man. It’s early in the season. You can’t get too down on yourself. These guys haven’t done that once. It was good to see them finally get some reassurance.”

Estrada’s performance was particularly encouraging, as he entered Saturday batting only .185 with a .474 OPS over his first 14 games.

Manager Bob Melvin said he thought Estrada was being overly aggressive at times, but the 28-year-old second baseman broke out of the funk by hammering a misplaced fastball from Rays right-hander Ryan Pepiot out to left field for a solo shot that put the Giants ahead, 2-1, in the top of the fourth.

“The approach never changes,” Estrada said in Spanish. “I’m always looking for a good pitch to drive so I can have success and help the team win. Fortunately, I was able to execute that plan today.”

Estrada’s 397-foot missile marked the Giants’ first homer since April 3, snapping their longest power drought since June 7-13 in 2014. The lack of pop was a major reason why the Giants had been struggling to consistently drive in runs, as evidenced by their 0-for-10 showing with runners in scoring position on Friday night.

“A lot of times the timely hits are the home runs,” Melvin said. “I think the home run thing was kind of festering here for a little bit. As you see, we have plenty of guys who can hit the ball out of the ballpark.”

LaMonte Wade Jr. followed with his first home run of the season in the fifth, driving the eighth pitch he saw from Pepiot just over the right-center field fence for a two-run blast that extended San Francisco’s lead to 4-1.

Jorge Soler joined the party with a 446-foot bomb to dead center field off Chris Devenski in the seventh. Estrada added his second homer of the game -- a two-run shot to left -- before Matt Chapman capped the slugfest with a solo shot off catcher Ben Rortvedt in the top of the ninth.

The five homers were the most the Giants have hit in a single game since April 29, 2023, when they faced the Padres in the high altitude of Mexico City.

With his fourth career multi-homer game, Estrada now has three long balls on the season, showcasing one of the reasons why the Giants expect him to be one of their most impactful players in 2024.

“It’s just a matter of time with him,” Melvin said. “I said before the season I thought this was kind of the year that he could potentially step up and be an All-Star. I still think that. There’s a lot in there, as you can see. It’s power, it’s speed, it’s hitting the ball the other way. There’s just a lot of great things he does. He plays good defense for us. It’s nice to be able to get a really big game like that.”

The Giants averaged a mere 3.15 runs per game in Webb’s 33 starts last year, so he relished the chance to work with a double-digit cushion on Saturday. Webb gave up a game-tying RBI groundout to Yandy Díaz in the third, but he put up zeros the rest of the way, using a balanced mix of sinkers, sliders and changeups to neutralize the Rays’ lineup.

Melvin came out for a mound visit when Tampa Bay put a pair of runners on with two outs in the sixth, but he decided to stick with Webb, who rewarded his manager’s faith by inducing an inning-ending groundout from Rortvedt on his 96th and final pitch of the game.

“I thought I was out, and I probably said some cuss words as he was coming out,” Webb said. “I wasn’t mad at him. I just wanted to finish the inning. He said, ‘Do you want it?’ Heck yeah, I want it. I’d love to stay in this game. He was like, ‘Alright, let’s do this.’ And he walked away, and that was it. It was awesome to have him show that confidence in me to be able to finish that.”