The San Francisco Giants have stayed afloat so far this season despite very few secondary offensive contributions, so when they do get big hits from outside of the heart of the lineup, they’re awfully hard to beat.
Big hits from the likes of Gregor Blanco and Alen Hanson fueled a six-run second inning on Friday against the Atlanta Braves, and combined with Brandon Crawford’s three-hit night, it was more than enough to fuel a 9-4 win in the opener of a 10-game road trip.
Atlanta (19-12) jumped out to an early lead on Freddie Freeman’s two-run homer in the bottom of the first, but the Giants had an immediate answer against Mike Foltynewicz. Crawford singled and Austin Jackson walked, and both came around to score in the top of the second thanks to Gregor Blanco, who tripled against the organization that had initially signed him.
It wouldn’t stop there. After pitcher Chris Stratton struck out, Hanson doubled on a grounder inside the bag at third, scoring Blanco. Later in the inning, on a Buster Posey grounder to third baseman Jose Bautista, Hanson came home, and was called out on Bautista’s throw to the plate. Replay review, though, reversed the call. Brandon Belt doubled in the fifth run, and Posey came home to score the sixth on Evan Longoria’s groundout to second.
Stratton struggled in that first inning and didn’t seem to have his best command, but the six second-inning runs helped to settle him down, and he still managed to get through six innings, allowing just three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out six. That third run came on Nick Markakis’ solo homer in the bottom of the third.
Crawford — who had his second multi-hit game in a row after not having recorded one since April 13 — collected his third hit of the night with a two-run homer off left-handed reliever Jesse Biddle to pad the lead in the seventh. He finished 3-for-5 with two RBIs, and has raised his average from .198 to .223 over the past two games.
Atlanta scratched one across in the bottom of the seventh on Ozzie Albies’ sac fly, but would get no closer. San Francisco (17-15) got the final run of the night on Evan Longoria’s ninth-inning homer, his seventh blast on the young season.
The Giants did use their two top left-handed relievers as both Will Smith — an Atlanta native — and Tony Watson pitched an inning, but San Francisco managed to save closer Hunter Strickland. Sam Dyson took care of the ninth, issuing a walk but otherwise taking care of business. In all, the bullpen allowed just one hit and one walk over the three innings, with the Braves scoring an unearned run.
The Giants have now won nine of their last 12 games, including five of their last six. They play the Braves again on Saturday at 4:10 p.m., Pacific.