Brinson making it a September to remember with SF

Former top prospect homers for third time in two games against the Dodgers

September 7th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- certainly appears to be making the most of his September audition with the Giants so far.

Brinson crushed his third home run in two games in the Giants’ 6-3 loss to the Dodgers on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium, flashing the prodigious power that once made him one of the top prospects in baseball.

After going deep twice to lead the Giants’ five-homer barrage on Monday, Brinson led off Tuesday by blasting Tyler Anderson’s first pitch of the game halfway up the left-field bleachers, giving San Francisco a quick lead.

It was the first career leadoff homer for Brinson, who became the first Giants player with three or more homers in a two-game span against the Dodgers since Hunter Pence in 2013.

“He’s gotten the ball in the air, and he’s got a ton of power,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Over the course of his career, he’s been a quality Major Leaguer against left-handed pitching. Tonight he got a good pitch to hit and put it in the seats.”

Brinson’s 400-foot blast wasn’t enough to topple the Dodgers, who used a trio of long balls, including two from Max Muncy, to erase the early deficit and snap the Giants’ mini four-game winning streak. With Alex Wood on the injured list with a left shoulder impingement, the Giants leaned on their bullpen to cover all eight innings on Tuesday, but lefty Jarlín García faltered after relieving opener John Brebbia in the second.

García had held opponents scoreless in eight of his previous nine outings, but he struggled from the outset, surrendering a leadoff double to Muncy and walking Justin Turner to put a pair of runners on for Joey Gallo, who delivered a go-ahead, three-run homer to center field. Muncy then took García deep for a two-run shot in the third, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 5-1.

“I came out trying to compete like I always do,” said García, whose ERA rose from 2.77 to 3.52 following the rough outing. “It was just a bad day.”

Brandon Crawford yanked a two-run homer off Anderson to bring the Giants within two in the sixth, but Muncy padded the Dodgers’ lead with his second homer of the night, a solo shot off Dominic Leone in the home half of the inning. San Francisco is now 5-6 in bullpen games and 4-11 against Los Angeles this year.

At 65-69, the Giants’ focus has begun to shift to 2023 and determining which players will be part of their future going forward. At 28, Brinson isn’t as young as prospects such as David Villar or Bryce Johnson, though his pedigree makes him an intriguing addition for the Giants, who helped fellow outfielders Mike Yastrzemski and LaMonte Wade Jr. achieve breakthroughs at similar ages in recent years. Brinson was a first-round Draft pick of the Rangers in 2012 and was the centerpiece of two blockbuster deals, including the 2018 trade that sent Christian Yelich from the Marlins to the Brewers.

“He has a chance to reestablish himself as a Major League-caliber talent,” Kapler said. “In a perfect world, he gets off and kind of affirms the industry’s belief in him over a long period of time for being an elite-level athlete and a guy that can change the game with that athleticism. So there’s a lot at stake for Brins. He came here with a big smile on his face, a lot of enthusiasm and has a chance to inject some energy.”

Despite his tantalizing combination of power and speed, Brinson has struggled to put it all together in the Majors, hitting only .199 with a .570 OPS and 25 homers over his first five seasons with the Brewers and Marlins. He joined the Astros on a Minor League deal in March and enjoyed a nice season at Triple-A Sugar Land before the Giants acquired him in exchange for cash considerations at the end of August.

Brinson, who is 5-for-15 (.333) over his first five games with the Giants, admitted that the high expectations weighed on him earlier in his career, but he’s determined to move past his stumbles and make the most of his fresh start with San Francisco.

“I think I put a little too much pressure on myself,” Brinson said recently. “Everybody thought I was going to go out there and bang right away and it didn't happen. I was disappointed. Everybody else was disappointed. I was worried about what everybody else was worried about. Now I could care less. I play my game and it's going to be a lot of fun.”

With Austin Slater on the IL with a dislocated left pinkie, Brinson has been receiving plenty of opportunities to start in center field against left-handed pitching. He figures to get another look against Clayton Kershaw in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, giving him a chance to build on his promising start with his new club.

“I’m just playing baseball,” Brinson said. “It’s a great opportunity, the last month of the year. Just go out there and not try to impress anybody, just go out there and play ball. I’ve done that in the past, where I’ve gone up and tried to do too much. Now I know what to expect. I’ve been in the league before. It’s going to be fun. It’ll be a fun last month.”