'Man, that's a lot of RBIs': Matos absolutely raking

May 19th, 2024

SAN FRANCISCO -- Less than 24 hours after recording a career-high five RBIs, managed to top himself.

The Giants’ hot-hitting center fielder went 3-for-5 with a three-run home run and six RBIs to pave the way for a 14-4 blowout win over the Rockies on Saturday afternoon at Oracle Park, giving San Francisco its first three-game win streak of the season.

Matos now has 11 RBIs in the last two days and 17 on the season, the most by a Giants player in his first six games with a plate appearance since RBIs became an official stat in 1920. He already ranks fourth on the club in RBIs despite taking only 26 at-bats in the Majors this year, batting .385 with a 1.116 OPS and two home runs over that span.

“Man, that’s a lot of RBIs,” manager Bob Melvin said. “It just seems like he’s tracking the ball every time up. He’s aggressive. He was wearing that left-center-field gap out. … That’s like Player of the Week stuff that he’s doing right now.”

Matos’ 11 RBIs are tied for most by a player in a two-game span at age 22 or younger (since RBI became official in 1920), with Johnny Bench (1970), Jim Tabor (1939) and Joe DiMaggio (1937).

The 22-year-old Matos, who has laid claim to the starting center-field job following the season-ending injury to Jung Hoo Lee, said he couldn’t recall having a stretch at the plate like this previously in his career.

“It means a lot,” Matos said in Spanish. “I’m really proud of the work that I’ve been doing. To be able to do it at this level is something I’m really proud of.”

Matos’ callup, coupled with the recent arrival of fellow homegrown youngsters Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano, seems to have energized the Giants, who pounded out a season-high 18 hits, including nine doubles in a game for the first time since 1912.

The trio combined to go 7-for-14 against the Rockies, showcasing the type of offensive contributions the Giants have long dreamed of getting from their farm system.

“It’s incredible because it’s something we always talked about,” Matos said. “We’re always in touch and get along really well. Even though we’ve gone up and down, we stayed positive and knew that our time was coming. When the opportunity came, we all tried to take advantage of it.”

The Giants entered Saturday as the only team in the Majors that hadn’t won three in a row this year, but they finally got over the hump thanks to Matos, who put San Francisco on the board with a three-run blast off former Giant Ty Blach in the first inning.

The native of Bobures, Venezuela, kept his torrid start going in his second trip to the plate in the third, driving a first-pitch sinker from Blach into the left-center-field gap to score Matt Chapman from first and push the Giants’ lead to 6-3. Matos capped his historic day with a two-run, bases-loaded single in the eighth, tying the franchise record for most RBIs in a two-game span that was last set by Jack Clark in 1982.

“I’m just trying to get on base for him,” said Chapman, who doubled twice and scored four runs as part of his second career four-hit day. “I mean, he’s been doing unbelievable. It’s fun to see all these young guys come up and really help us out. We need it, so it’s great.”

Matos also showed off his growing confidence in center field in the fifth, when he ranged back to make a leaping catch at the wall and rob Alan Trejo of extra bases. It was the second theft of the week for Matos, who took a home run away from the Dodgers’ Teoscar Hernández with another impressive grab in right-center field on Wednesday.

“For me, the most important thing is confidence,” Matos said. “This year, I’ve been fortunate to have that confidence ever since Spring Training, both on defense and offense.”

Jorge Soler (3-for-5, two RBIs) and Thairo Estrada (2-for-4, two RBIs) also recorded multihit performances to help support a solid start by rookie left-hander Kyle Harrison, who gave up three runs over five innings to improve to 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA through 10 starts this year. The Giants will look to keep their budding winning streak alive on Sunday, when they’ll send Jordan Hicks to the mound as they attempt to pull off their first sweep of the year.

“We’d like it to be more than three,” Melvin said. “It’s nice to not have to talk about being the only team that hadn’t had a three-game winning streak.”