Luis Matos

Matos provides ‘spark' for Giants, eases sting of Lee's injury

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SAN FRANCISCO – With a crowded outfield coming out of spring training, the Giants didn’t have any room on their roster for Luis Matos.

The way things are going now, manager Bob Melvin is having a difficult time keeping the energetic 22-year-old outfielder out of the lineup.

For the second consecutive game, Matos provided the Giants with a huge spark at the plate in their 14-4 win over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday at Oracle Park. He rapped out three hits, including a three-run home run, and set a career-high with six RBI.

That came about 24 hours after Matos drove in five runs to set a then-career best.

The 11 RBI are the most in a two-game stretch by any Giants player 22 years or younger since RBI became an official stat in 1920, according to

“Man, that’s a lot of RBIs,” Melvin told reporters at Oracle Park. “Just seems like he’s tracking the ball every time up. He’s wearing that left-center field gap out. It’s like player of the week stuff, what he’s doing right now.”

Maybe even player of the month.

Matos, who was called up from Triple-A Sacramento last Sunday, already is fourth on the Giants with 17 RBI. That set a new franchise record for the most runs driven in by a player in his first six games with at least one plate appearance. Matos actually has played in seven games, but one was as a pinch-runner.

“I don’t think I've ever done this before,” Matos said through an interpreter. “It feels really good. I feel very proud of myself to be able to do this and obviously very proud to do it at this level.”

Matos has been one of the Giants’ most talked about prospects since joining the club after Michael Conforto went on the injured list. Matos' three-hit game Saturday raised his batting average to a team-leading .385, tops among all San Francisco players with at least 26 at-bats.

Matos’ big week has helped inject life into a team that has had to rely heavily on its young players due to injuries that ravaged the starting lineup.

His three-run home run off former Giants pitcher Ty Blach in the first inning got San Francisco going early and set the tone for the team’s third consecutive win, something that the Orange and Black hadn’t been able to accomplish all season.

That Matos has been so hot at the plate isn’t all that surprising. He played well in the spring but was buried on the depth chart, so he began the season in Sacramento. He was batting .333 with 11 RBI and had a .571 slugging percentage with a .905 OPS with the River Cats before getting the call to join San Francisco.

“Right now I’m locked in and I’m seeing the ball very well,” Matos said. “I think what’s happening right now is that I trust myself a little bit more, not only on defense but in hitting. I feel that trusting myself a little bit more is helping my game.”

In a big way.

Matos is the fourth player in Giants history to notch consecutive games with five RBI or more. Jack Clark (1982), Don Mueller (1951) and Bill Terry (1932) are the others.

The 17 RBI in six games also are the most by any Giants player since Hunter Pence drove in 19 from Sept. 10-15, 2013.

Matos also has shown he’s a very capable outfielder. He robbed Dodgers slugger Teoscar Hernandez of a home run on Wednesday, then made another spectacular catch Sunday to take potential extra bases away from Alan Trejo in the fifth inning.

That has helped ease the sting from the loss of center fielder Jung Hoo Lee to a season-ending shoulder injury. Lee was on his way to quickly becoming a fan favorite before getting hurt. With Matos now patrolling in center, Giants fans still have a newcomer to root for.

Injuries also have paved the way for San Francisco’s other young players to come up and make an impact.

“The vibe in the dugout is probably as good as it’s been,” Melvin said. “It’s not just him. It’s been one after the other. It’s been a jolt of energy for us.”

Matos has proven to be one of the most disciplined and aggressive hitters in the Giants’ lineup. He has not struck out or drawn a walk in 26 plate appearances this season and has whiffed only 33 times in 255 at-bats over his brief career.

As evidenced Saturday, Matos is also showing that he can be a game-changer with both his glove and bat.

“I just look for a good pitch to hit,” Matos said. “I’m not the one in the stress situation. It’s the pitcher, the one that’s trying to get me out, so I have the upper hand in trying to get a good pitch to hit.

“The most important thing is to continue supporting the team and just put in my little bit to win.”

Matos’ teammates obviously have taken notice of the energy and output that Matos has provided, noting that the overall feeling in the clubhouse is more positive.

“[The] guy’s a gamer,” said pitcher Kyle Harrison, who benefited from Matos’ play and got the win Saturday. “He’s been a spark, and I think all of the older guys are feeding off the younger guys coming up. It’s been great vibes here.”

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