San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Well-Timed Home Runs, the Return of a Hero

Jun 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) claps in left fielder Mac Williamson (51) after Williamson
Jun 8, 2016; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) claps in left fielder Mac Williamson (51) after Williamson /

On this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss a couple of well-timed home runs, a lockdown bullpen outing, and the return of a hero.

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Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Wednesday, the Giants came away from an excellent ballgame with a 2-1 win, earning a split in a short, two-game series with the Boston Red Sox. Cory Gearrin earned his second win of the season, while David Price was the tough-luck loser. Hunter Strickland closed the door in the ninth for his first save of the year.

The Giants are 36-25 on the season, and with a Dodgers’ loss to the Colorado Rockies, the Giants’ division lead is back to four games.

Here’s what went on Wednesday.

1 – Two Well-Timed Home Runs

Let’s get our immature giggles out of the way now: Brandon Belt hit Splash Hit #69 yesterday. It was the team’s first Splash Hit since September 25th, 2014, when Belt took Andrew Cashner for a swim. In the fourth inning Tuesday, against one of the game’s premier left-handers, Belt turned a hanging David Price curveball into a wet souvenir in the chilly waters of McCovey Cove.

It was Belt’s second home run of the season against a left-handed pitcher, but his improvement against lefties has gone well beyond power. After hitting .256 versus opposing southpaws from the 2012 season to the 2015 season, Belt is hitting .300 (18-60) against them this year.

While Belt’s home run was great, the Giants still needed a little boost in a 1-1 tie. That boost came from an unlikely source in the eighth inning. On the first pitch of the inning, rookie outfielder Mac Williamson took the Red Sox ace out of the park, just reaching the stands over the left field wall on a towering flyball. Williamson’s first career home run came after striking out in his first two at-bats, but it couldn’t have come at a better time.

2 – Bullpen Shuts the Door

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The Giants’ bullpen has been much-scrutinized lately, and rightly so, but they did a bang up job on Wednesday against one of baseball’s best lineups. After Bumgarner needed over 100 pitches to get through six, it was up to the relief crew to shut things down in a tie game, and they got the job done.

Derek Law started things off in the seventh, giving up just a single in his inning of work. Cory Gearrin took over in the eighth, and struck out two in a perfect inning. Things then got a little hairy in the ninth.

Santiago Casilla started the inning against Hanley Ramirez, and on a deep flyball, Williamson couldn’t put the sweet spot of his glove on the ball (the Baseball Gods are fickle beasts). The two-base error caused some drama, but Casilla struck out the next hitter, Jackie Bradley. With pinch-hitter David Ortiz coming up, Bruce Bochy made the choice to go to his own lefty, Javier Lopez. Ortiz worked Lopez for a walk, but the crafty veteran struck out Travis Shaw for the second out.

It was up to Hunter Strickland to face pinch-hitter Marco Hernandez, and it took him only one pitch to seal his second career save.

The Giants needed a performance like this from their bullpen, after they’ve watched lead after lead evaporate in the past week-plus. This is a big win for the Giants, and a big confidence boost for a lot of guys in the bullpen.

3 – A Hero’s Return

After the game, the Giants confirmed that 2014 postseason hero Travis Ishikawa is back with the team on a minor league deal. He started the year with the Chicago White Sox organization, but hit .201 (albeit with six home runs) in 40 games, and was released late in May. He’ll be heading back to Sacramento to provide more organizational depth for the team.

I shouldn’t need to tell you why this is special.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Suarez Impressive Again

And that will do it for this edition of the Giants Morning Minute. Up next, the Giants have another off-day! After not having many at all during the first couple months, it will be their second day off in four days. They then welcome the Los Angeles Dodgers to town for a three-game weekend set. No matter how the series goes, the Giants will still be in first place come Monday morning.