SAN FRANCISCO -- Up the California coast from where catcher Riley Adams grew up, the San Diego product left a souvenir at Oracle Park.
Appearing in his first game since last Thursday, Adams walloped his longest career home run on Wednesday afternoon in the Nationals’ 11-6 win over the Giants.
The three-run blast flew a Statcast-projected 413 feet into left field at 104.7 mph off a slider from southpaw Sean Manaea. It edged out Adams’ previous career mark of 412 feet he set on Aug. 7, 2021, against lefty Will Smith at Truist Park.
“I was trying to keep it simple,” said Adams. “I was a little late earlier on, and I was just trying to get the foot down a little early, get the hands back. I don’t think he was trying to throw that slider in that spot, but I was able to stay back. I’m just lucky that thing stayed fair.”
Of the home runs hit at Oracle Park this season, Adams’ is tied with the Giants' Thairo Estrada for the 10th-longest distance.
“Just trying to get the barrel to the ball, and good things happen when I can do that,” said Adams.
The matinee was only Adams’ sixth contest of the season, playing behind Keibert Ruiz. But when he is in the lineup, Adams has been effective. He has recorded a hit in four of his six starts. A key to that has been his off-day work with the coaching staff to improve timing and simplify his swing.
“Once again, he comes up with a big hit,” said manager Dave Martinez. “We talk a lot about, ‘If you go 1-for-4 and drive in a run and handle our pitching staff and we win, that’s a great day for you.' So today, a big day for him.”
Perhaps more significantly, Adams' last two afternoons of game-calling have yielded the longest starts by a Nationals pitcher this season: Right-hander Josiah Gray tossed seven innings against the Giants on Wednesday, matching left-hander Patrick Corbin’s total against the Cubs last Thursday.
“It was really good,” Gray said. “I think we were on the same page, other than probably a few pitches. Really, really good targets, [we] threw a lot of good, low strikes with the fastball today and he’s a big target -- he’s as big as they come. Being able to throw to him is always great. ... He works hard back there, him and Keibert. They’re a really good duo. To see him hit a home run as well is a cherry on top.”
Echoed Martinez, “He does his homework. He’s done really well on mixing pitches up, keeping the guys in the zone. Not having Ruiz in there, I feel comfortable with Riley catching for us, I really do.”
Adams’ second-inning dinger sparked an offense that produced the Nationals’ highest run total of the season. Their 11 runs off 12 hits included a sixth-inning home run by right fielder Lane Thomas and three RBIs from utility infielder Ildemaro Vargas, who started at shortstop in place of CJ Abrams. The Nats improved to 6-4 in May.
“It feels awesome,” said Adams. “But I think more importantly, the whole lineup was hitting today and that’s even more gratifying to see. Putting up 11 runs like that is huge, and giving some of our pitchers, giving our bullpen a little more than just a one-run game, being able to do that’s the best part.”