San FranciscoGiants

Dickerson locking swing in at perfect time, matches Mays


A season played during a pandemic doesn't just mean that road trips are lacking the usual trips to malls, movie theatres and the nearest Cheesecake Factory. The Giants have limited any activities that could be deemed high-risk right now, which includes extra time in the trainer's room. 

Alex Dickerson always has had star potential but a checkered medical report, and the hours before a game were filled with maintenance work with trainers. He was one of the first to arrive at the ballpark last summer, but Dickerson has cut way back this year, knowing that he should be spending as much time as possible getting ready alone in a hotel room. 

That leaves a lot of hours to kill, and a few weeks ago Dickerson pulled up YouTube and typed in "longest home runs ever hit." 

"Just because I was bored," he said Tuesday. 

He was surprised to see Brandon Belt show up for a 475-foot blast hit at Coors Field in 2015, and when Dickerson hit one that went an estimated 480 feet in the first inning Tuesday, Belt was waiting in the dugout. Just as he did with beat reporters in 2015, and several times since, Belt made it known that he doesn't believe Statcast is accurate and that 475 is well short of the real number. 

"That's the first thing he said," Dickerson said, laughing. "In the dugout, literally after I hit it." 

Those numbers being educated estimates, we might never know who truly has the longest Giants homer of the Statcast era. But what we do know is that Belt has never done what Dickerson did with his whole night. Few in the history of Major League Baseball have. 

Dickerson led the charge in a stunning 23-5 win over the Colorado Rockies that set or tied multiple MLB and franchise records and put a 30-year-old outfielder alongside Willie Mays in the books. He hit three homers and nearly added a fourth in the ninth inning. 

Dickerson became the 15th player in MLB history and the first Giant to record five extra-base hits in a game. Mays remains the only Giant to ever homer four times in a game, but with two doubles to go along with his three homers, Dickerson tied one of Mays' franchise records. When his double smacked off the bottom of the wall in the ninth, Dickerson joined Mays as the only Giants to ever record 16 total bases in one game. 

"It's incredible company," he said. "I mean, the things that he did in his career and everything that he means to San Francisco, to even be mentioned in the same breath as him is an incredible honor." 

That seventh and final plate appearance, which allowed Dickerson to tie the record, was one of the most interesting Giants' ones in years. The lineup had kept tacking on, scoring five times in the eighth to keep bringing Dickerson to the plate on a night when he barreled everything, hitting four balls at least 102 mph, including a pair at 112 and 109. 

The Giants scored in each of the first eight innings, with Brandon Crawford and Donovan Solano joining Dickerson in the six-RBI club, setting an MLB mark. That left the final five outs to Rockies backup catcher Drew Butera, but that didn't make Dickerson's push for history any easier in the ninth. 

Manager Gabe Kapler said he sees that situation as a mixed bag, noting that some Giants struggled against the position player. The ninth was the only inning in which the Giants didn't score. Crawford also said that it can be more difficult sometimes to face someone throwing slower pitches that you almost never see in an MLB game. 

As Dickerson waited for his shot at four homers, he did not at all feel he had lucked out to have Butera, who mostly sat in the upper 70s, on the mound. 

"It's a little harder to be honest," Dickerson said. "A lot of times when you're going really well in a lot of these games, the position player at-bat is the one that gets you. It's just a different look. It's not what you've been tuned up to all day. I was really just trying to get something away and drive it the opposite field." 

Dickerson got an 80 mph fastball on the outer edge and smoked it to left-center for a double that came with a fair share of irony. On a night when the Giants took full advantage of Coors Field, Dickerson's bid for a final homer came up a few feet short because he hit it to the biggest left-center gap in the majors. The ball traveled 414 feet, which would have been a homer in 29 other ballparks. 

That left Mays alone in the record books when it comes to homers in a game, but this was still a night that will be etched in franchise history. The lineup tied San Francisco Giants records for hits (27) and runs in a game, and did so behind a second-year Giant who briefly turned the season around last year and might be locking his swing in at the perfect time. 

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The Giants have seen this before from Dickerson. The extra-base hits, the barreled balls, the "Dick! Dick! Dick!" chants in the dugout. It doesn't get old. 

Well, most of it doesn't get old. 

"After the third homer the chants in the dugout weren't quite as enthusiastic," Crawford said, smiling. "It was like, okay, another homer, cool."

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