By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO — The list of youthful sluggers that have raked in their Oracle Park debuts is growing lengthier.
Yandy Diaz, Gleyber Torres, Aaron Senzel, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and now Austin Riley have all had big games. Consequently, the Giants win-loss record is suffering.
Riley capped his first trip to San Francisco as a big leaguer with a two-run, game-tying home run in the eighth inning, then topped himself with the game-winning base hit in the 13th inning of the Braves’ 5-4 victory over the Giants.
The homer was Riley’s third in the series, and his fifth in his first eight, big league games. That second feat makes the slugger the fastest to hit his fifth home run in the history of the Braves franchise.
“To be able to do that is an honor,” Riley said. “The last hit was even more special to me because it put the team ahead and got the job done.”
Getting the job done in Riley’s case required driving Reyes Moronta’s 97 mph offering into the right field corner with a swing that was executed with Riley lunging and off balance. That came with two outs, and scored Darby Swanson, running at Moronta’s release, and scoring from first base.
That effectively ended the Giants’ afternoon in which they held 2-0 and 4-2 leads but couldn’t close the door. Adding to their frustration, Madison Bumgarner’s impressive, six innings of work was squandered. The Giants’ ace departed in line for the win.
“We just couldn’t get the bats going later on against their bullpen,” said manager Bruce Bochy.
While Riley showed off a natural swing that belied his age and experience, the Giants flailed. After pinch hitter Tyler Austin homered in the seventh to give the Giants’ a two-run cushion, the home team went scoreless over the final six frames. But more disturbing than the zeros was the quality of the at-bats.
In the eighth, with a runner on, Kevin Pillar and Mac Williamson fanned to end the inning. In the ninth, with two runners aboard, Buster Posey hit a chopper to the third on the first pitch. Pablo Sandoval got his opportunity as a pinch hitter in the ninth, and struck out on a pitch in the dirt.
Continuing the theme, Evan Longoria struck out in the 13th without unleashing a swing, and Williamson fanned five times, prompting questions after the game.
“We’ll talk about it,” Bochy said. “It was a rough day for Mac. I know he’s probably pressing… I can’t say probably. That’s a tough day there. So anyway, we’ll huddle up and see what we can do to add some offense here.”
The Giants open a three-game set with the Diamondbacks on Friday at Oracle Park.