Alex Dickerson’s arrival last year coincided with the Giants’ improbable rise into contention. Acquired from the Padres in a June 10 trade, Dickerson reinvigorated the Giants’ offense and emerged as the catalyst behind the club’s 19-6 run in July.
The 30-year-old slugger endured a slow start to the 2020 campaign, but he’s heating up at yet another crucial juncture for the Giants.
Dickerson set the tone in a 23-5 rout of the Rockies on Tuesday night at Coors Field, crushing three home runs, including a mammoth, 480-foot blast that was the longest by a Giants hitter since the launch of Statcast in 2015.
“That's by far the best game I've had in my life,” Dickerson said.
It was a historic blowout for the Giants, who matched San Francisco records with 27 hits and 23 runs. The last time their offense produced at such levels was June 8, 1990, at Atlanta. The Giants scored in each of the first eight innings before being blanked in the ninth by Drew Butera, normally a catcher. The Giants just narrowly missed out on becoming the 21st team to score at least one run in every inning in which it had an at-bat with the most recent club to do so being the White Sox in 2016.
Dickerson, Donovan Solano and Brandon Crawford drove in six runs apiece, becoming the first trio of teammates to have at least six RBIs in a single game since the RBI became an official stat in 1920, according to STATS. With three homers and two doubles, Dickerson accumulated 16 total bases to tie Hall of Famer Willie Mays for the most in a game in franchise history. His five extra-base hits in a game was the 12th in big league history; comparatively, four-homer games have happened 17 times.
“That's quite an accomplishment,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “One of the better all-around statistical performances I've seen. Every swing he took was right on time. He even had some near-misses that he was synced up on and got his ‘A’ swing off on. It was a really good performance by Alex.”
Dickerson opened the scoring in the first by depositing a down-and-in changeup from Jon Gray into the third deck in right field for his fifth home run of the year. It broke the team’s Statcast long-distance mark previously held by Brandon Belt, who hit a 475-foot shot at Coors Field on May 22, 2015. Belt has long claimed that his home run actually traveled farther than Statcast’s estimated distance and told Dickerson in the dugout that he still felt he was cheated five years ago.
But Crawford, who witnessed both tape-measure home runs, said he sided with Statcast.
“I told Belt right away that Dickerson's went further,” Crawford said. "And I think I saw that it was like five feet further. I told him I could tell.”
Dickerson’s moonshot was the second-longest home run hit this season, behind only a 483-foot blast by Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton.
The Giants’ left fielder struck again in the second inning, launching a two-run shot off Gray to extend San Francisco’s lead to 5-0 and secure his first career multi-homer game. He doubled in the fourth before adding another two-run homer off Rockies reliever Jairo Díaz in the sixth.
“After the third homer, the chants in the dugout weren’t quite as enthusiastic,” Crawford said. “It was like, ‘OK, another homer. Cool.’”
Dickerson just missed a fourth home run in the ninth, as he doubled off the left-center-field wall for his fifth hit and second double of the night. That batted ball would’ve been a home run in 29 other Major League ballparks -- everywhere but Coors Field, based on normal weather conditions. Dickerson said he thought facing Butera actually made the challenge even more difficult.
“It's a little harder, to be honest,” Dickerson said. “A lot of times when you're going real well in a lot of these games, the position player at-bat is the one that kind of gets you. It's just a different look. It's not what you've been tuned up to all day. I was really trying to just get something away and drive it to the opposite field. I was pretty glad I executed because a lot of times I don’t.”
No player had recorded three homers and two doubles in a Modern Era Major League game until the Cubs' Kris Bryant did so on June 27, 2016. Then the Cardinals' Matt Carpenter followed just over two years later at Wrigley Field. Now, Dickerson has grown that exclusive club to three players in the past five years -- when none had previously done so across the first 115 years of Modern Era baseball.
Dickerson batted only .195 through his first 28 games of the season, but he began to show signs of a turnaround over the weekend in Arizona. He now has four home runs over his last two games and said his swing hasn’t felt this good since he first joined the Giants last June.
Dickerson has shown that he’s capable of carrying the Giants when he’s healthy, as he hit .386 with a 1.222 OPS and six home runs over his first 30 games with the club in 2019 before landing on the injured list with an oblique strain. A resurgent Dickerson could provide a meaningful jolt to San Francisco’s playoff odds again this year and deepen the club’s lineup against right-handed pitching.
With the lopsided win Tuesday, the Giants (18-19) moved ahead of the Rockies for the eighth and final playoff spot in the National League with 23 games left to play. The victory came one day after a quiet Trade Deadline for the Giants, who opted not to deal such veterans as Johnny Cueto, Tony Watson and Kevin Gausman, who earned the win Tuesday after allowing only a pair of solo home runs to Garrett Hampson over five innings.
President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he decided to keep his roster intact to give the Giants a chance to sustain their playoff push down the stretch. Kapler and Dickerson both said they viewed the lack of activity as an endorsement of the club and its ability to continue to surprise in this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.
“We're very comfortable with what we have,” Dickerson said. “Them not making really any moves is something that we were fine with. We’re going to roll through and feel like we can win baseball games on a consistent basis. It's a good vibe right now.”