Giants refinding their ‘selectively aggressive' offense

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Hitting can be contagious in baseball, and the Giants’ performance over the weekend proved that notion. 

San Francisco responded to a five-game losing streak by winning the last two games against the St. Louis Cardinals to split the four-game set, with the bats waking up to save the team from more early-season gloom.

After exploding for 13 runs on Saturday, the Giants clawed out a 4-3 win over the Cardinals on Sunday behind a two-run homer by LaMonte Wade Jr. and a solo shot into McCovey Cove by Mike Yastrzemski. That followed Saturday’s three-homer performance by the Giants, which included a grand slam by Wilmer Flores and solo homers by Darin Ruf and Mauricio Dubon. 

With five different Giants homering in the last two days, manager Gabe Kapler told reporters after Sunday’s win that the team is looking more like itself – that is, a team that works good at-bats and hits the long ball.

“It’s part of our game,” Kapler said. “We’re a team that sees pitches. We’re a team that goes deep into counts. We’re selectively aggressive. Sometimes that leads to walks and sometimes it can and should lead to damage.”

The Giants led the National League last season with 241 home runs, a big reason why they won 107 games. They’ve hit 30 so far this year, tied for fourth in the National League.

But the month of May brought with it an offensive drought uncharacteristic of the Giants of the past year. The Giants managed just five runs over a stretch of four games last week. 

They didn’t overreact, though. While the Giants didn’t have a five-game losing streak last season, Yastrzemski said on Giants Postgame Live that every team goes through rough stretches during a 162-game season.

“The best thing so far is guys haven’t been trying to get too big at the plate, or trying to hit three home runs with one swing,” Yastrzemski said. “It’s process-oriented. As long as we put together one at-bat, and the next guy’s going to put together another one. Just keep the momentum rolling and keep everybody feeling fresh and good.”

Yastrzemski later told reporters in the clubhouse about the Giants’ mentality of building off each other’s successes.

“When you see the guy in front of you working hard for a walk, the guy behind you working hard for a walk or getting a good pitch to hit, you just want to be involved in that and you want to be continuing that down the line,” Yastrzemski said. “So I think it’s just an example that’s set from each and every one of us.”

The 31-year-old outfielder is starting to find his stroke after returning from the COVID-19 IL last week, and he said his go-ahead splash hit on Sunday in the sixth inning was a product of being relaxed and patient at the plate. 

“When you don’t try to do too much, you free yourself up,” Yastrzemski said. “That’s how I've been feeling at least, so it’s nice to be back on the field.”

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Kapler believed that Yastrzemski – whose batting average dipped to .224 last year from .297 in 2020 – is looking closer to “Yaz circa 2020” with his swing more on-point. 

Yastrzemski got every bit of a 96-mile-per-hour fastball from Génesis Cabrera, crushing it into the water. If the Giants can keep getting power out of Yastrzemski – as well as up-and-down the lineup like they did over the weekend – they’ll be on track to repeating the success of last season.

“Some combination of walks and home runs usually leads to success for us, and again, bigger innings help us win baseball games,” Kapler said. 

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