ORACLE PARK — Before the 2019 season, Giants fans dreamed of Bryce Harper hitting home runs into McCovey Cove. On Friday night, he did just that, but was showered with boos as he rounded the bases in a Philadelphia Phillies uniform.
Just an inning after Stephen Vogt hit the first San Francisco Giants splash hit since May of 2018, Harper – who the Giants seriously pursued in the offseason – repeated the feat for the visiting Phillies, launching a three-run shot over everything in right field for his second home run of the game.
“The ball is flying this year,” manager Bruce Bochy said, after a 9-6 loss that featured four home runs hit at least 420 feet.
Harper’s blast would end up being the difference in San Francisco’s loss, its seventh in nine August games. A robust offensive performance couldn’t prevent the Giants from falling four games behind the Milwaukee Brewers for the second National League wild card.
Though the scoreboard seemed to tell another story, it was really only a few fits of poor command that derailed an otherwise decent start for Tyler Beede (3-6, 5.61 ERA) and tainted his pitching line with five runs in five innings on just four hits and seven strikeouts.
“I felt like I, for the most part, executed with my offspeed pitches,” Beede said. “[But] fastballs were left over the plate.”
The Giants tallied 10 hits and three homers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Harper’s two-homer, four-RBI, three-rungame and an unusually poor performance by the San Francisco bullpen.
Beede hummed along through his first two innings – punching out four Phillies while not allowing a hit out of the infield – but unraveled in the third.
“I thought Beede came out of the chute throwing the ball so well,” Bochy said. “The two big innings killed us.”
He walked the pitcher Drew Smyly, then loaded the bases on another walk and a Rhys Hoskins single with just one out. Cory Dickerson made Beede pay by smacking a high fastball off the brick in right-center for a bases-clearing triple.
“I can’t let that happen,” Beede said. “Just got to have better focus.”
Dickerson would score on a sac fly later in the inning to give the Phillies a 4-1 lead – Kevin Pillar roped a solo home run down the left field line in the second for his 14th round-tripper of the year, tying Pablo Sandoval for the team lead.
Beede appeared to recover well, registering a clean fourth with two strikeouts, but in the fifth, Harper tagged a middle-middle changeup into center field for a 420-foot solo moonshot.
“Whether it’s Harper or anybody else, you’ve got to execute pitches,” Beede said. “If you make a mistake right down the middle, he’ll make you pay for it.”
As he crossed the plate, the $330-million man pressed his index finger to his lips and shushed the home crowd, prompting more jeers. He and the Phillies were unhappy with some specific things said by fans behind the plate, something “people shouldn’t say and shouldn’t come out of their mouths.”
Beede would collect the final two outs of the inning but left trailing 5-3.
In his first official National League at-bat, Giants newcomer Joey Rickard – called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Thursday and walking in his only plate appearance – smothered an inside fastball and took Smyly into the bleachers with a 427-foot blast to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Rickard’s fast start – 1-for-3 with a homer and two runs scored – is a good sign for a Giants team desperate for outfield depth, with Alex Dickerson dealing with nagging back problems and Steven Duggar landing on the 60-day injured list on Friday.
The Giants briefly took the lead in the sixth, when Vogt hooked a two-run homer over the right field foul pole and into the Bay to tie the game at five apiece. Donovan Solano then collected his third hit of the night with runners on first and second, driving in Rickard to take a one-run lead.
Tony Watson – who had allowed only one run in his last 10 1/3 innings – couldn’t buy an out in the top of the seventh and quickly handed the lead back to the Phillies. The left-hander allowed all five men he faced to reach and conceded the towering 456-foot drive on a slider to Harper that swung the momentum in Philadelphia’s favor.
“I threw a [cement] mixer up there,” Watson said, “and he put it in the cove. It was a terrible pitch and he crushed it.”
Even in the worst outing of his professional career – not recording an out against any of the five batters he faced for his first time in the majors – Watson was able to shrug off the dud.
“When you’re a high-leverage reliever and you’re in a leverage situation, there’s going to be nights like this,” Watson said. “I’m not going to get too caught up in this.”
Despite the defeat, the reinvigoration of the Giants bats in the past two games — they’ve hit .308 (21-for-68) in the first two games against the Phillies – is encouraging. Solano and Vogt both recorded three-hit games and could continue to anchor the San Francisco offense as two of the team’s more consistent hitters.