By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants’ offense this season has shown less pop when they’re the visitors than it has when they play at Oracle Park.
Following that equation, Wednesday’s return to McCovey Cove was just what the Giants needed to get things rolling–on the road.
With the Mariners the designated home team for the game originally scheduled for Seattle’s T-Mobile Park, but moved due to poor air quality enveloping the Northwest, the Giants didn’t assume a secondary role as the visiting team. Batting first in each inning, the Giants immediately made themselves at home by blasting to an 8-0 lead midway through the fourth inning, then cruising to a 9-3 win.
Give the Giants the win, and bonus points for improvisation, according to manager Gabe Kapler.
“We knew there would be situations we haven’t had to deal with in Major League seasons past,” Kapler said. “We have to be good within the construct of whatever the season hands us.”
“It’s definitely a lot easier to deal with this stuff when you’re at your own place,” Brandon Belt said. “It’s definitely a lot more comfortable here for us. We get to go to our own house or whatever it may be. We get to use our own facilities when we come to the ballpark. I think that definitely plays a role.”
The first 31 games of this unusual season went off as planned. Since then, the Giants have experienced it all: social activism, virus outbreaks–and false positive tests–and now poor air quality due to the plethora of wildfires. And the adjustments weren’t initial successes: the Giants were listless in dropping hastily-scheduled doubleheaders to the Dodgers and Padres. But this time, they were ready, and their home park helped in that regard.
Belt, Evan Longoria and Brandon Crawford each homered in the win, and Crawford added two doubles to his big night, part of the team’s 15-hit parade, seven of those for extra bases. Seattle starter Ljay Newsome was hit hard, allowing eight hits and eight runs– five of which were earned.
Giants’ starter Drew Smyly recorded the first 11 outs–eight via strikeout–in an abbreviated appearance, his first start since landing on the injured list August 1 with a sprained finger. The short outing opened the door for Trevor Cahill, who picked up the win by pitching two innings in relief.
Smyly and six Giants relievers piled up 17 strikeouts, a real measure of the misery suffered by the Mariners, who needed a win to boost their postseason aspirations. Instead the Giants got that win, along with a Rockies loss (to the A’s, 3-1) to get them back to .500 with 12 games remaining.
The Giants returned home having played just three of six scheduled games, losing all three. The silver lining is all three cancelled games are late additions to the Oracle Park schedule, and part of the finishing kick that has the Giants in the Bay Area for the last 13 games of the regular season.