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Giants roll to first series victory behind solid pitching, timely hitting

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The San Francisco Giants clinched their first series victory of the 2020 season Saturday night with a 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.

A solid start from Drew Smyly (ND, 1-0, 3.24 ERA) was cut short due to injury. Fortunately, the Giants bats stayed red-hot, as Donovan Solano (2-for-5, 3 RBIs) and Evan Longoria (3-for-4, 2 RBIs) led the offensive attack.

Smyly surrendered a leadoff double to Elvis Andrus in the top of the first inning. A walk to Joey Gallo put runners on first and third. What happened next was rather bizarre. Smyly picked off Gallo at first, which resulted in a rundown between first and second. Andrus, the runner on third broke for home plate, and the Giants focused their attention on him.

As they were chasing Andrus up and down the third base line, Giants catcher Tyler Heineman attempted to tag Andrus, but instead missed, and tackled the third base umpire. Both runners were called safe at second and third.

The next batter, Todd Frazier, knocked them both in with a base hit to right field. That was an ugly sequence of events, Rangers lead 2-0 out of the gate.

An immediate response came from the Giants (5-4) in the bottom of the first inning after Lyles walked both Mike Yastrzemski and Brandon Belt. A double from Longoria scored both, tying the game 2-2.

Smyly struck out the first two Rangers hitters in the top of the second inning, before surrendering a single and a walk to put runners on first and second. A third strikeout ended the inning.

Both Yastrzemski and Alex Dickerson walked to begin the bottom of the third inning. A wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position with nobody out. Solano came through, knocking in both runners on a single to right-center. Those two RBIs were the 11th and 12th of the season for Solano, the most in all of baseball.

Longoria recorded his second hit of the night before Pablo Sandoval grounded into an inning-ending double play. Giants jumped out ahead 4-2 after three innings.

Smyly would depart suddenly in the top of the fifth inning with a finger injury. After the first two innings, he settled down very nicely. Shaun Anderson replaced Smyly with no outs in the fifth.

Smyly’s final line: 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 Ks, 71 pitches.

After the game, Giants manager Gabe Kapler gave an update on Smyly:

“He had some discomfort in his left index finger. We got him out of there, he’s going to have an MRI tomorrow, and at this point, we’ll wait to see what that MRI shows. After that run down and after that inning, he really settled down nicely. Everybody who was watching tonight’s game noticed that he got very efficient and he started to really attack the strike zone. What that did for him was that it enabled him to pitch into the fifth inning, and we felt like he had a chance to complete that inning.”

Anderson walked two Rangers batters and was unable to finish the inning. Caleb Baragar (W, 2-0, 4.50 ERA) came on to finish the job.

Longoria walked to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning, advancing to second on a wild pitch. Both Brandon Crawford and Heineman walked to load the bases. With two outs, Yastremski walked to force in a run. Austin Slater grounded out to end the rally. Giants extend their lead to 5-2 after seven.

The Giants did not score in the bottom of the seventh, but it’s worth noting that Longoria collected his third hit, reaching base for the fourth time Saturday night. His bat has been red-hot since being activated from the injured list.

Crawford was hit by a pitch to begin the bottom of the eighth inning. Heineman followed with a double. Second and third with nobody out for the Giants. Bases were loaded after an intentional walk issued to Yastrzemski.

Solano, the player leading the baseball world in RBI’s, added one more to his tally. A single to right scored the Giants sixth run of the game. His 13th RBI in nine games.

Belt walked to force in another run for the Giants. The score now 7-2 Giants heading into the ninth inning.

Sam Selman looked to close it out for the Giants in the ninth inning. A solo home run from Scott Heineman, Tyler Heineman’s brother, made it a 7-3 game. That was all for the Rangers (2-5).

Notes

  • The Heineman brothers shared a moment before and after Saturday’s game. Tyler Heineman spoke with the media and revealed that he hasn’t seen his brother much over the past couple of months due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

After the game, Tyler Heineman talked about catching while his brother is at the plate, and what (if any) conversations they have.

“Just some baseball banter. You know, like what’s been going on throughout the game. Other than that, i’m letting him focus, and he’s letting me focus. We’re just competing. It’s him in the box, me behind him, i’m trying to get him out, you know? Just like everybody else, i look up at him, i see what i think the right pitch is at the time and i give my recommendation to the pitcher and we go from there.”

The important question, does Tyler know his brothers weaknesses as a hitter, and can he use that to the Giants advantage?

“Yeah, but apparently not good enough honestly. I’ve caught three times against him, and he’s 1-for-4 every single time with a home run. So he’s 3-for-12 lifetime when I’m catching. Obviously not good enough, it’s gotta be a little bitter than that.”

  • The past two games combined have featured 10-1/3 innings from the Giants bullpen. They have allowed only one run, with no walks, and 13 strikeouts. Kapler talked about his bullpen’s dominance after the game.

“We’ve had a lot of conversations with our relievers over the last couple of days about how we anticipated using them. They’ve really taken to that concept, I think they really appreciate understanding what point in the game they are likely to be used. I think they appreciate knowing what part of the opposing lineup they will be used in. I think they’ve done a great job of coming in and keeping the game either close or securing a win.”


Taylor Wirth

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