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Giants erupt at plate as Samardzija wins debut

Six-run fifth provides all the offense righty would need in his first start of 2018
Special to MLB.com

ANAHEIM -- The Giants used a fresh face and a night with the designated hitter to get the kind of offense they have been yearning for in an 8-1 victory Friday over the Angels.

In his first game with the Giants this season, after replacing an injured Hunter Pence (thumb) on the roster, Mac Williamson blistered a two-run home run to get things rolling in a six-run fifth inning.

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ANAHEIM -- The Giants used a fresh face and a night with the designated hitter to get the kind of offense they have been yearning for in an 8-1 victory Friday over the Angels.

In his first game with the Giants this season, after replacing an injured Hunter Pence (thumb) on the roster, Mac Williamson blistered a two-run home run to get things rolling in a six-run fifth inning.

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Designated hitter Andrew McCutchen added a towering three-run home run later in the inning, making the Giants look nothing like the team that had scored one run or fewer in 10 of its first 18 games.

"When [Williamson] hit it, I knew it was out," manager Bruce Bochy said. "And good for Mac, first game back to do that. He has to be so high on confidence right now with the type of ball he has been playing down there in [Triple-A] Sacramento. And to come up here and hit a huge home run … we've been stuck on one run here, and he got us going there with a two-run shot."

Video: SF@LAA: Giants score six on two homers, single in 5th

The 10 games with one run or less was easily the most in baseball. The Tigers and Astros were next with six. The Giants' 51 runs entering the series were the fewest among all 30 clubs.

Williamson heard all the talk about potentially being an offensive savoir for the Giants. The trick to actually doing it, for one day anyway, was to avoid thinking about it as much as possible.

"I think it's having the experience of being up a little bit and kind of knowing how much adrenaline is going to play; there is no doubt about it," said Williamson, who has 92 games of big league experience over the previous three seasons. "I wanted to go out there and stay cool, calm and collected, and try not to be too tense and tight and get too big in my at-bats."

In his first start of the season, Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija was sharp, giving up just two hits over five innings while throwing 80 pitches. He did walk four batters. Samardzija started the season on the disabled list with a right pectoral strain.

It proved to be an ideal location for the veteran to launch into the season having posted a 2.87 ERA in two previous outings at Anaheim.

Video: SF@LAA: Samardzija whiffs Trout for first K of 2018

"I tried to stay within myself and not try to overthrow," Samardzija said. "I always enjoyed trying to do that sometimes to see how hard you can throw so it was different to go out there and hold yourself back a little bit, but I wanted to make sure I was on the edges [of the plate] if I knew I wasn't going to have my velocity."

The velocity was fine as the right-hander hit as high as 94 mph on the radar gun.

"But that's not enough," he said with a laugh.

The Giants took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a Nick Hundley home run, his first of the year. Williamson added his first homer three innings later on a 3-1 sinker from Angels starter Andrew Heaney.

Video: Hundley's opposite-field smash

It was just the second left-handed pitcher the right-handed hitting Williamson had faced since the start of the season. He had just one at-bat against a lefty while at Triple-A Sacramento, before facing Heaney.

McCutchen's home run was his third of the season and broke things wide open, while knocking Heaney from the game. Heaney gave up seven runs on six hits with two walks in 4 1/3 innings, making his second start after opening the year on the DL with elbow inflammation.

Video: SF@LAA: McCutchen skies a three-run homer to left

The Giants entered Friday's game having lost five of their previous six, and seven of their previous nine on the road.

"Hundley's [home run] was awesome, but Mac's was really awesome, kind of what he did for the locker room and the dugout; it was loud," Samardzija said. "He hit it well, and obviously a home run with a runner on, and to make it 3-0 was huge."

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sure, the Giants hit two home runs in the fifth inning and three in the game, but it was a pair of bunts that had Bochy talking about momentum. Not only did Gorkys Hernandez bunt for a single in the fifth, Kelby Tomlinson added his own one batter later. Bochy called the back-to-back bunt hits exciting and said it ignited the Giants to a bigger inning.

SOUND SMART
The eight runs the Giants scored Friday were not only the second most they scored in a game this season, the six they scored in the fifth inning were their most in a single frame since scoring seven in the sixth inning of a Sept. 30, 2016, game against the Dodgers. The Giants' 1.82 runs per game before the series started was the lowest in the Majors.

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Williamson's no-doubt-about-it laser into the seats in right-center field had an exit velocity of 114.2 mph, with the home run traveling 434 feet. After hitting six home runs in 11 games at Triple-A Sacramento, Williamson added his first with the Giants in his second at-bat in the Majors this year.

Video: SF@LAA: Williamson rocks a two-run homer to right

HE SAID IT
"That's the game. It's nice to feel comfortable. Obviously the results matter, but if the process is clean you can take the result a little easier, whether it's a positive or a negative. But it's obviously nice to drop a couple of balls." -- Hundley, who had a home run among his two hits after a number of hard-hit balls this season went for outs

UP NEXT
Giants left-hander Derek Holland will take the mound Saturday evening against the Angels still in search of his first victory as a member of the Giants. After nine seasons in the American League, Holland knows the Angels well, going 10-8 against them with a 5.21 ERA in 28 appearances (25 starts). His 162 ⅓ innings pitched against the Angels are his most against any team in the Majors. The Angels will counter with right-hander Garrett Richards (2-0, 3.60 ERA) in the 6:07 p.m. PT start.

Doug Padilla is a contributor to MLB.com.

San Francisco Giants