Led by Conforto, Giants bats key series-opening win

June 24th, 2023

SAN FRANCISCO -- broke out of his early season slump with a torrid May, but he cooled off a bit once the calendar flipped to June. Now that this month is coming to a close, Conforto is showing signs of heating up at the plate once again. 

Conforto went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a season-high four RBIs, and Patrick Bailey launched a two-run home run to cap a five-run fifth inning as the Giants defeated the first-place D-backs, 8-5, in Friday night’s series opener at Oracle Park.

With their 11th win in their last 12 games, the Giants improved to 43-33 and pulled within 2 1/2 games of the D-backs in the National League West

“It felt good to contribute tonight and come through in those big moments with guys on,” Conforto said. “The rest of the guys did a great job, too. It was great top-to-bottom. The lineup did a great job getting on base and just coming through in big moments. That’s what our success has been about. Guys coming through in those situations.”

Conforto entered Friday slashing .161/.250/.232 with one home run over 26 games this month, but he snapped an 0-for-17 skid by driving a 3-0 sinker from Arizona right-hander Zach Davies to left-center field for a two-run double in the third inning.  

Conforto put the Giants ahead for good with another two-run double in the fifth. After J.D. Davis chased Davies with a game-tying RBI double to left field, Conforto pulled a hanging curveball from lefty reliever Joe Mantiply just inside the right-field line to give San Francisco a 6-4 lead.

The 30-year-old slugger added an opposite-field single off right-hander Drey Jameson in the sixth, helping the Giants improve to 20-4 in games in which he drives in a run. 

“Really, truly line-to-line tonight,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He takes a curveball, smashes it down the right-field line. Sinker off Davies to left-center field, and then a firm fastball from Jameson down the left-field line. That’s when you know you’re locked in, when you’re hitting all pitches and you’re hitting them line-to-line.”

The switch-hitting Bailey broke the game open with a two-run shot off Mantiply that stretched the Giants’ lead to 8-4 in the fifth. Swinging on a 3-0 count, Bailey drove a misplaced sinker 399 feet over the left-field wall for his fourth home run of the year.

After going 2-for-3 with a walk on Friday, Bailey is now batting .330 with a .921 OPS over his first 27 games, with three of his four homers coming from the right side. His 22 RBIs are the third-most by a San Francisco Giant through their first 27 career games, trailing only Hall of Famers Willie McCovey (24) and Orlando Cepeda (23). 

“It’s about as good a start as we could have hoped for,” Kapler said. “I think more powerful than anything else is the confidence that it builds for Pat. When you get off to a tough start as a young player and as a rookie, you begin to press a little bit. Sometimes you can lose a little confidence and wonder if you actually belong in the Major League level in the batter’s box. The flip side is also true. You get off to a good start and you start to feel like not only do you belong, but you can really be a productive hitter at this level.”

Bailey has historically hit better from the left side, but he’s put up impressive numbers with his right-handed swing since debuting with the Giants last month. He’s hitting .414 (12-for-29) against left-handed pitchers in the Majors so far, a significant jump from the .172/.282/.266 slash line he posted against lefties in the Minors.  

“Since coming up here, I’ve been trying to simplify everything as much as I could,” Bailey said. “I’ve been playing around with different stances. I was like, you know what, I’ll get my foot down and take my hands straight to the ball and see what happens. That’s probably been the biggest difference so far.”

Right-hander Logan Webb earned the win after giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits -- including a second-inning solo shot by former Giants third baseman Evan Longoria -- over seven innings. Webb has now gone at least seven innings in three straight outings and eight of his last 10 overall, giving him a 3.16 ERA over a Major League-high 105 1/3 innings this season.

“I feel like every time I’m trying to go out there and give as many innings as I can,” Webb said. “I’m trying to give the bullpen a blow every once in a while. Those guys throw a lot of innings, so I’m trying to make sure I have their backs, as well.”