Donnie Barrels keeps it going for Giants

August 2nd, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO -- Donnie Barrels did it again. 

Second baseman drove in three runs -- including a tiebreaking, two-run single in the third inning -- to propel the Giants to a 7-3 win over the Rangers on Saturday night, clinching the club’s first series victory of the year at Oracle Park.

The 32-year-old infielder, who later added an RBI single in the eighth, is now batting .448 with 13 RBIs over his first eight games of the season, the most in the Majors. He recorded 23 RBIs over 81 games last season.

“He does something special every single day,” catcher Tyler Heineman said. “He’s really the straw that stirs the drink for us right now. He’s coming up clutch. He just barrels up the ball and puts up great at-bats. We’re not going to have an uncompetitive at-bat when he’s up at the plate. He’s been our catalyst and the guy that drives in the runs as well. You can’t say enough about him. He’s an incredible human, and he works his butt off. I’m really happy that he’s being successful right now.”

Solano and Mike Yastrzemski, who drew a career-high four walks out of the leadoff spot on Saturday, continued to pace the offense for the Giants, who improved to 5-4 to climb over .500 for the first time in Gabe Kapler’s tenure as manager. The Giants worked 11 walks against the Rangers, converting five of them into runs.

“I thought we did a really nice job of controlling the strike zone on both sides of the ball,” Kapler said. “Our hitters did a really good job of attacking strikes and laying off balls. That’s why you saw the walks. And on the flip side, our pitchers did a nice job of attacking the strike zone with all of their offerings.”

With the game tied, 2-2, in the third, the Giants put runners on first and second with no outs after Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson drew back-to-back walks off Rangers right-hander Jordan Lyles. That brought up Solano, who once again lived up to his nickname by ripping a single to center field to score both runners and put the Giants ahead, 4-2. 

“My teammates started playing with me,” Solano said in Spanish. “They gave me the nickname. They started asking me how I do it, how I always put the barrel on the ball. It all started as a joke, and it stuck.”  

Left-hander Drew Smyly yielded two runs and struck out seven over four-plus innings before departing with left index finger discomfort in the fifth. The Rangers, aided by a botched rundown by the Giants, opened the scoring on Todd Frazier’s two-out, two-run single in the first inning.

Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus led off the game with a double and then advanced to third on a steal. Joey Gallo followed with a two-out walk, but Smyly appeared to have him picked off after catching him straying too far off first base.

Smyly threw to first baseman Brandon Belt to initiate a rundown, but Solano took a throw from Belt and threw across the infield to third baseman Evan Longoria to try to nab Andrus, who ultimately slid back safely into third base. Heineman collided with third-base umpire Jim Wolf during the play, forcing Wolf to depart the game. Kapler said “it’s possible” Wolf might have suffered a concussion on the collision.

Frazier subsequently capitalized on the Giants’ misplay, singling to right field to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead.

“Those are things that we definitely have to continue to clean up and work on,” Kapler said. “And in particular, I think Heineman, if he were sitting right next to me, would say he needs to have a feel for when to give the baseball up. That comes with reps and practice and discussion.”

Still, San Francisco countered in the bottom of the first on Longoria’s game-tying, two-run single to right-center field. After mustering only two runs in their first two losses of the season in Los Angeles, the Giants have now scored 30 runs over their past four games, a sign that their offense is beginning to coalesce following the return of Longoria and Belt, who were activated from the injured list on Thursday.

“I think it’s just a testament to the guys, and the fact that we’re just staying with our plan and trusting the process,” Heineman said.