Giants Observations

What we learned as Yaz homers in Giants' win over Red Sox

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The Giants needed a little bit of everything Thursday at Fenway Park to avoid a three-game series sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox, and that was exactly the formula required for a solid 3-1 win before boarding a plane to Philadelphia. 

A Mike Yastrzemski home run in front of his Hall of Fame grandfather? Check. A 22-year-old Kyle Harrison showcasing his dominant stuff to get himself out of trouble? Check. Timely defense, and even timelier hitting? Check and check. 

Harrison struggled to find a tight strike zone and was way off at times, too. He also displayed how dominant he can be by fanning seven Red Sox. The Giants’ bullpen then shut the door on Boston.

Ryan Walker, Erik Miller, Tyler Rogers and Camilo Doval combined to throw the final four innings. Only one batter reached base. The four relievers combined to allow no walks, one hit and struck out four.

Here are three takeaways from the Giants improving to 15-17 on the season.

All That Yaz

A Yastrzemski playing at Fenway Park will always be in style. So will a Yastrzemski homering at the heralded cathedral. 

Yastrzemski caught a cutter at the bottom of the strike zone to leap off the third inning and launched a solo shot over the right-center field wall and into the Red Sox’s bullpen. Starting pitcher Jacob Winckowski knew his mistake could cost him a run and give the Giants an early lead. Yastrzemski sprinted out of the box. 

It didn’t take him too long to slow down and enjoy the view.

His third home run of the season traveled 393 feet with a 100.3-mph exit velocity, and would have been a homer in 28 out of 30 parks. Yastrzemski’s homer was his second in his last four games.

Getting Out Of Jams

The thinking always has been that if Harrison can find his control and cut down on his walks, the young left-hander can be an ace of San Francisco’s staff in no time. Though he sported a 4.01 ERA through his first six starts of the season, also as a result of a .330 BAbip, Harrison had commanded the zone much better. 

Harrison had only walked five batters in six starts over 33 innings pitched. His walk percentage had gone down from 7.5 percent last season to 3.7 percent this year, and Harrison’s strikeouts to walks ratio had increased from 3.2 to 6.2. 

And then Harrison walked two batters and hit another in the first inning. The Red Sox loaded the bases without a hit. Harrison walked four batters through three innings and ended his day walking five – his previous season total – in five innings. Yet he kept getting out of jams.

The Red Sox were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position off Harrison and left six men on base. Harrison struck out seven batters for his second straight start, induced 13 swing and misses, gave up only three hits and forced two double plays. Both double plays ended the bottom half of the inning for Boston. 

Harrison’s ERA dropped to 3.79 on the season. 

Old-School Baseball

Get on base, get him over, drive him in. The time-old baseball tale of generating runs and winning games came to life for the Giants in the top of the seventh inning. 

Patrick Bailey worked a 3-1 count and took advantage of an elevated cutter to begin the inning, lining a single to left field. Matt Chapman followed Bailey with a scorcher to left-center field that registered a 105.4-mph exit velocity. Not known for his speed, Bailey took advantage of Fenway Park’s dimensions and raced around to third base. 

The first two batters of the inning, Bailey and Chapman, had expected batting averages on their contact of .770 and .480. The third batter of the inning, Thairo Estrada, had a .110 expected batting average. But it was Estrada whose single brought Bailey home and gave the Giants a 2-1 lead. 

Estrada fought off a 96-mph fastball out of the zone and hit his grounder right past a diving Zack Short. Two batters later, facing an 0-2 count, Nick Ahmed’s sacrifice fly to left field gave the Giants a two-run cushion.

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