The San Francisco Giants hit three home runs in a game seven times last season, but in 2019, had yet to turn the feat.
One of the least powerful lineups in the Major Leagues — with the second-fewest home runs — turned the trick for the first time in 2019 on Tuesday, riding that unexpected power to a 7-3 win over the Washington Nationals in the first game of a three-city road trip.
San Francisco (8-10) did so without a longball from Kevin Pillar, who had carried the offense throughout the prior homestand. Instead, Evan Longoria, Steven Duggar and Brandon Belt all cleared the fences in support of Dereck Rodriguez, who got a win on the site where he struggled in his first career start in 2018.
Rodriguez needed 98 pitches to make it through just five innings, but allowed just a run — on a double by the opposing starter, Stephen Strasburg — in the bottom of the second. Strasburg gave up a solo shot to Longoria to lead off the fifth, then failed to stop the bleeding as Duggar’s two-run jack with two outs put San Francisco ahead. Belt’s one-out blast in the sixth ended up ensuring the victory despite some late rallies by the hosts.
It certainly didn’t hurt that the Giants were facing a team with one of the most beaten-up bullpens in the game, and they made sure to add on to prevent anything from getting too interesting in the final innings. Pillar walked to start the seventh, stole second and came home on a Gerardo Parra double off Austen Williams, whose first Major League appearance of the year did little to inspire confidence in his manager or the home fans.
A bunt single by Joe Panik added yet another insurance run thanks to an error by Nationals pitcher Matt Grace, which proved especially helpful as Washington (7-8) made things interesting against Sam Dyson, who struggled against left-handed batters, allowing a .266 batting average to them over his career, and .286 this season.
Pinch-hitter Matt Adams launched a solo homer off Dyson to cut the lead to 6-2, and after a double by Adam Eaton — another lefty — an RBI single by Anthony Rendon would cut the lead to three. The Nationals would get no closer, with Tony Watson getting Juan Soto to ground out to finish the inning. The Giants tacked on another run in the eighth as Trevor Rosenthal, who managed to lower his ERA to 40.50 by yielding just one run, allowed an RBI single to Pillar.
With a four-run lead, Mark Melancon handled the eighth in order and took care of the first out of the ninth before Will Smith came in to retire the final two batters in a non-save situation. Melancon has yet to allow a run this season.
In all, it was a 10-hit outburst for the Giants, with five of those knocks going for extra bases despite only starting one hitter in the lineup with an OPS over .800 (Belt).
Bart injured: Fans looking to head to San Jose to watch top prospect Joey Bart in the California League will have to wait 4-6 weeks to do so, as the catcher was injured on Monday night in a game that the Giants’ Single-A affiliate lost 6-1 to the Stockton Ports. Oakland A’s farmhand Mitchell Jordan hit Bart with a pitch that fractured the 2018 No. 2 overall pick’s hand, which will leave him shelved for a minimum of a month.