A mighty afternoon for Evan Longoria and four Giants home runs sparked San Francisco into clobbering the Reds 9-2 at Oracle Park on Saturday, snapping a three-game losing streak.
The Giants (39-32) played with fire during their recent trip through Pittsburgh and Atlanta, losing four one-run ball games. The biggest culprit was a lack of clutch hitting, with the team seemingly unable to record the big hit to break open games.
The San Francisco defense has also struggled. Saturday, the fielding miscues started in the second inning when Longoria bobbled a chopper at third then couldn’t make a clean transfer to record an out. Nick Senzel was next, lining an RBI single to right to put the Reds on the board first. Giants starter Logan Webb was forced to throw 12 extra pitches because of the error.
This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.
Longoria made up for the mistake with a bang in the bottom of the frame, tattooing a 2-2 hanging Mike Minor breaking ball to the top of the bleachers in left field to tie the game.
Longoria wasn’t finished. He knocked in another run in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly, extending the Giants lead. He was removed once the Giants kept added more runs on the board, a strategy Giants manager Gabe Kapler feels his veterans have earned:
[Longoria] is kind of a borderline Hall of Fame player with a lot of a lot of success and a lot of track record. At the same time, we have to respect the fact that his body doesn’t bounce back like a 25-year-old. … one of the keys to his success is figuring out ways to keep him fresh and one of the reasons I think he’s swinging the bat well is because he’s respected that and we’ve been there to support him.”
Saturday was the second-straight game the San Francisco veteran third baseman has homered and he continues to show encouraging signs after nagging injuries the past few weeks. Whether or not it means anything, he’s rocking a six-game hitting streak.
Minor allowed two more homers; Thairo Estrada tagged him two hitters after Longoria with a solo shot of his own in the second, and Joc Pederson launched his 17th of the season in the fifth to straightaway center.
As reliant as the Giants are on the long ball, they also racked up timely hits missing on their road trip. To begin the third, Austin Slater walked before Wilmer Flores moved him to third with a double. First baseman Darin Ruf lined an RBI single to left, then Tommy La Stella doubled home Slater on a fly ball that rolled past a diving Senzel in center field.
The finishing touches on the Reds (24-47) came courtesy of Flores’ second hit in the sixth, a three-run homer that put the game out of reach at 9-1. Flores had been hitting .163 in his last 15 games, but two hits Saturday make him 7-for-17 (.411) with 5 RBI in the last 5 games.
Kapler said the swing was the hit the Giants have been waiting for:
We’ve talked about one more really good at-bat in the game to make the difference. We’ve also talked about how big innings win baseball games for us. They have for quite some time dating back to 2020, it’s been one of the big keys to our success. So that was our three-run inning and the moment when we were able to really choose our bullpen arms from there.”
Webb looked fantastic once again, and the Giants have now won 22 of his 28 career home starts. He fired six strong innings without allowing an earned run while conceding just two hits. He finished with 97 pitches, three pitches shy of his fourth-straight outing over 100 pitches – an amount with which the Giants feel a lot more comfortable nowadays.
Webb has now allowed just three earned runs in his last 25-2/3 innings across three starts, while racking up 25 strikeouts. The right-hander was encouraged with his outing but Webb said he noted a few drawbacks:
The stuff was really good. I still think there were some times where (I was) getting in so many two ball, three ball. Overall, I thought the attack went well.”
The only other Reds run of the game came via a Brandon Drury solo blast in the eighth against Sam Long to make it 9-2.
The series finale between the Giants and Reds will feature a pair of right-handers. Anthony DeSclafani (0-1, 7.71 ERA) will look to rebound against his former club after a rough start in Atlanta. In his first game after missing significant time on the injured list with an ankle injury, DeSclafani yielded five earned runs in three innings. San Francisco will square off against righty Tyler Mahle (2-6, 4.57 ERA).
Michael Papierski was claimed off waivers by the Reds ahead of Saturday’s game. The 26-year-old catcher was originally acquired by the Giants from the Houston Astros in-exchange for Mauricio Dubon on May 14. A week later he was called up briefly for ten plate appearances across five games and was kept hitless. … Kapler noted that Luis Gonzalez’s back is feeling much better. The outfielder was placed on the injured list with a low back strain on June 23 – the injury apparently has also affected him in the past. … There is no significant update on outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr.’s status as he recovers from a left knee inflammation. He’s been in the lineup for Triple-A Sacramento the last few days and played seven innings in left field on Friday night while going 1-for-4 at the plate with a double, RBI and walk. Kapler said the Giants are set to reevaluate him after the weekend.
Steven Rissotto has covered the San Francisco Giants for SFBay since 2021. He is the host of RizzoCast, a baseball interview show featuring players, coaches, media and fans. He attends San Francisco State University and will major in Journalism and minor in education.