Tonight featured the Return of the Mac, with Mac Williamson being called up after tearing things up in Sacramento and becoming something of a folk hero to Giants fans salivating for some offense.
Williamson jokingly said before the game that he wasn’t a savior, but he seemed to have saved the Giants offense with one swing of his bat and returned some confidence to a shaky lineup.
Nick Hundley started things off in the second inning with a home run, right before Williamson struck out. And lately, that seemed to be the only offense we could expect - but it’s oftentimes been enough, or at least enough to keep them in the game. So this was a great start, and was also Hundley’s first home run of the season.
However, in his second appearance in the fifth inning, with Hundley on base after walking, Williamson hit a home run of his own. It’s going to go down in the cultural history of this fan base as something special. I don’t think anyone realistically expected Williamson to hit one out in his first game after all of the hype, and yet he did. On a 3-1 count, it was the hardest contact the Giants had hit for all season, leaving the bat at 114 mph and traveling 434 feet.
A homer like that from a player like Williamson, who has been making noise since spring training, can really inject some life into a team and the renewed spirit showed, so did the confidence to bunt for glory. Gorkys Hernández hit a bunt single and not to be outdone, Kelby Tomlinson followed that up with another bunt single - one that he was able to stretch to a double on a throwing error when it turned out there was no one on first base to catch the ball.
Austin Jackson got in the mix, hitting a single to score Hernández. And then Andrew McCutchen wanted back in on the action. And he got his way, with a three-run home run of his own to cap it all off for a six run inning.
Last year, the Giants didn’t have a three-run homer until June. They never scored six runs in an inning in 2017. This is progress! This is a hope for a better tomorrow! This is change we can believe in!
/takes a deep breath into paper bag
Sorry, got a little carried away there.
Later in the game, Evan Longoria and Hundley hit back to back doubles, giving Hundley a final line of 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs and two RBIs.
Tomlinson also went 2-for-3 with a walk, one of his hits a double that came after an impressive nine-pitch battle with Blake Parker that was hit up the left field line. He was, of course, stranded. But it was worth a mention.
At least we know that Hundley, McCutchen and Williamson will be in the lineup tomorrow, because when you hit a home run, you play the next day. Unless you’re Brandon Belt. Then you get benched on your birthday.
That said, the broadcasters had good fun in the post-game show talking about how bad Belt’s stats are on his birthday and noting that he was once sent down, joking that next year he will be asked to not even come to the yard on his birthday.
Jeff Samardzija had the best debut that could have been expected from him. His stuff was working for him for the first few innings. He ended up pitching five innings, allowing two hits, striking out four and....er....walking four. Well, it was his first game back and the Giants were quite busy in the top of the fifth inning. And in the bottom of the fifth, he walked the bases loaded. That’s not great, but not an indicator of anything other than the fact that he’s not quite at full strength yet.
During his sole rehab game, he gave up a grand slam in his first inning before settling down. And with the bases loaded in the fifth inning of this game, it was starting to look like he was going to do the same, but in reverse. Justin Upton hit a fly ball out to left field that seemed like it might go out, but Williamson squared up on the warning track and saved him from a replay of that appearance.
Not that it would have mattered, because the bullpen closed it out fairly smoothly. Reyes Moronta continued to impress, pitching two completely clean innings. The Angels only managed to score one run, a Mike Trout home run off of Pierce Johnson. Josh Osich got into a bit of trouble, giving up a lead-off single to Shohei Otani (who went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter) but got out of it with a fly-out and a double play to end the game.
Albert Pujols got one hit closer to his 3,000th, which is unlikely to happen during this series but is still a fun countdown to keep an eye on.
Since we’re keeping an eye on Giants player strike outs, they struck out 10 times in this one. Partially because starting pitcher Andrew Heaney was absolutely dealing in the first few innings (aside from the one home run allowed in the second inning). However, I’ll take 10 strike outs any day when they come with eight runs on nine hits, including three dingers.