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Wade, Yaz crush homers, lift Giants over Cardinals

A Mother’s Day celebration at the ballpark isn’t complete without flashy pink bats and arm bands, a trendy way for players to honor their moms.

It has become a familiar sight over the last year to see LaMonte Wade Jr. pay homage to his mother, Emily, and he did so again Sunday afternoon, blasting a game-tying, two-run homer – with, yes, a pink bat – as the Giants edged the Cardinals 4-3.

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San Francisco hasn’t won a season series against St. Louis since 2014. A split of this home four-gamer puts the Giants in position to claim the season series, with three road games next weekend comprising all the teams’ remaining scheduled matchups in 2022.

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

Wade’s big swing came in the second against Cardinals starter Dakota Hudson, who had just walked Darin Ruf. Wade launched his two-run bullet 436 feet to the right-center bleachers – the deepest part of Oracle Park – and was tracked at 107 mph off the bat. The second longest four-bagger of the season was also the ultimate answer-back, after a two-run Juan Yepez blast put St. Louis on top in the road half of the inning.

The homer was a welcome back swing for Wade in many ways. The 28-year-old outfielder started on the injured list, missing 25 games with a left knee bone bruise. After being activated on Friday, Wade entered Sunday 0-for-2 with a walk. 

San Francisco will bank on Wade as a force against right-handed pitching, with which they’ve struggled over the past week. In his breakout 2021 season, Wade notched a .808 OPS with 17 doubles and 18 homers. 

On his big swing, Wade said:

He’s (Hudson) really good when he gets on your hands so obviously I wanted to look for a pitch out over the plate. I think today was huge for the morale and just you know, to get back into winning ways. We had a great start by Jakob today which was perfect and great, and offense really clicked today.

Later in the second, a pair of Giants hits led to a go-ahead, Mike Yastrzemski sacrifice fly to make it 3-2. It wasn’t the last time Sunday that Yaz’s name would be associated with go-ahead hits. 

Manager Gabe Kapler said his team is a club that sees pitches:

We’re a team that goes deep into counts and we’re selectively aggressive, and sometimes that leads to walks and sometimes it can and should lead to damage. … So some combination of walks and home runs usually leads to success for us and again, bigger innings help us win baseball games.”

The Giants coughed up the lead in the sixth after left fielder Luis Gonzalez overran Dylan Carlson’s fly ball, a miscue that resulted in a ground-rule double and later a run for a 3-3 tie. 

Yastrzemski answered back in the bottom of the sixth with a solo shot into McCovey Cove to once again take the lead, 4-3. In a tough left-on-left matchup, Yaz recorded his fifth career splash hit and first since June 15, 2021.

Yastrzemski said:

Yeah, I mean, it was a situation where guy’s throwing hard. I know he’s probably gonna challenge me at some point, I just got a pitch to hit and really was just focused on taking a good swing and and hitting the ball hard.”

Despite baserunners nearly every inning, the Giants struggled to cash in, finishing 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position. On a positive note, Giants hitters collectively struck out just once Sunday, a Joc Pederson whiff to end the eighth.

Jakob Junis was recalled from Triple-A to start for San Francisco and was a big factor in keeping the score close. The right-hander fired 79 pitches – 45 sliders – through five innings of one-run ball with two walks and five strikeouts.  Junis’ only mistake was a first-pitch fastball to Yepez that got annihilated into right-center in the second for a two-run bomb. 

Junis settled in to fire three scoreless, finishing with five innings pitched, three hits, two earned runs, two walks, and five strikeouts. 

With an open spot in the rotation, Junis might very well be awarded more innings over the next few weeks. He now has pitched 15 innings this season, allowing just two earned runs.

After the game, Kapler mentioned the right-hander could be a big part of the rotation. Junis responded by saying:

Yeah, it’s nice. I’ve had a decent start to the season. Hopefully I get some consistent action and hopefully we can keep it rolling. It’s fun being here in San Francisco and playing with these guys and winning ballgames and I feel like I can be apart of that.”

Camilo Doval pitched the ninth with a one-run lead and slammed the door, racking up his fifth save of the season.

Up Next

The Giants welcome the Colorado Rockies to Oracle Park Monday for the first matchup between the division rivals this season. San Francisco went 15-4 against the Rockies last season. Carlos Rodon (3-1, 1.55 ERA) gets the call to start, with Alex Wood and Alex Cobb starting Tuesday and Wednesday. First pitch is 6:45 p.m.

Notes

The Giants recognized Albert Pujols and Yadier Molina before the fourth inning on Sunday afternoon. The duo is planning on retiring at season’s end from their respective Hall of Fame-worthy careers. Pujols, 42, is one of baseball’s greatest right-handed hitters ever and Molina, 39, has a strong reputation as one of the greatest defensive catchers to ever be stationed behind the dish. … To make room for Junis on the roster, the Giants optioned reliever Gregory Santos to Triple-A Sacramento. … Tommy La Stella (achilles) and Evan Longoria (hand) are “progressing nicely” according to Kapler. They were both in Sacramento’s lineup on Sunday afternoon.

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