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Giants honor Buster Posey by hitting dingers, breaking losing streak

Wilmer Flores was there for you today, hitting six RBI, including a grand slam in the first inning.

A photo of Wilmer Flores, hand raised in the air, surrounded by teammates as he celebrates  hitting a grand slam. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

It was Buster Posey Day at Oracle Park today, and the San Francisco Giants honored their former catcher and future member of the retired jersey number club by hitting dingers and beating the St. Louis Cardinals 13-7, snapping a five-game losing streak.

It turns out that the secret to getting wins is the potential for Buster Posey’s disapproval. They’re going to need to tell everyone that he will be attending games at random and unannounced and they should play like he’s watching in every game. Because clearly, it made a difference.

This game was a perfect example of why the Giants’ mentality of never letting up in a blowout is actually important and not disrespectful. They were up 4-1 after the first inning. Then they were up 8-3 after the second inning. Then they were up 9-7 after the top of the seventh inning. Teams can and do come back. It’s disrespectful to stop trying and assume they won’t. And it’s an easy way to lose a game like this.

The big thing to know about this game is that eight of the Giants’ runs came on home runs and two came for free.

Austin Slater led off the first inning with a walk, followed by a single from Mauricio Dubón that got past Nolan Arenado, before Belt walked (his first of three walks for the night) to load the bases. Wilmer Flores had hit four grand slams before tonight and quickly picked up his fifth, making him an official member of the Buster Posey’s Good Friend club, in my book.

He would go on to have two more opportunities to try again, as he came up to bat with bases loaded twice more in the game. It was not to be, but we’ll take the sac fly in the fourth, and the walk with bases loaded in the eighth, which got him to six RBI on the night.

In the second inning, Mike Yastrzemski hit a lead-off single (the first of two hits for the night, nice to see him get going again) before Dubón hit a home run. Not to be outdone, Belt walked again, and then Darin Ruf hit a home run. Grand slams are so first inning. The new hotness is back-to-back two-run home runs.

And now for the free runs. We’ve kind of already alluded to one of them. But in the eighth inning, Kodi Whitley entered to pitch for the Cardinals. He proceeded to walk Dubón, LaMonte Wade, Jr. (who replaced Belt mid-appearance, more on that later), and Darin Ruf to load the bases for Flores, a dangerous thing to do, as we’ve established.

But instead of trying to repeat, he wisely assessed that he’d have better luck getting the walk at that point and he was correct, walking in the Giants’ 11th run of the night. This was quickly followed by Luis González getting hit by pitch for an RBI as well, before Thairo Estrada got his second RBI of the night with a sac fly to score the Giants’ 13th and final run. (González also scored from first on a double from Estrada in the seventh inning, unrelated to this section, but I needed to get that in there somewhere.)

Now, the bad news. Brandon Belt returned to the line up tonight, making his first start since being out with COVID for the last week. But he was pulled mid-plate appearance in the eighth inning after taking a swing, grimacing and meeting with manager Gabe Kapler and head trainer Dave Groeshner. It looked scarier than it was, thankfully. I immediately thought oblique, but it was neck stiffness and he’ll be day to day for now.

We also have to talk about Logan Webb, who made his sixth start of the season tonight and the trend from last Saturday’s start (in which he wasn’t missing bats but was saved by his teammates’ offense) is continuing. Webb allowed four runs on eight hits, striking out seven, but walking two in five innings.

He led off the game walking Tommy Edman, who stole second, and would end up coming in to score the first run of the game on a single from Arenado. Not exactly the best start of the game, but they got a double play to end the inning, so it was fine.

But the second inning started with a single to Juan Yepez, advanced to second on a groundout, getting to third on a single from Harrison Bader, before both of them were knocked in by singles from Yadier Molina and then Paul DeJong. (Funnily enough, they scored their fourth run of the night much the same way, with DeJong knocking in Bader once again with a single).

So, it’s not going great for Webb. As we’ve seen over the last week, this level of offense is not sustainable in every start. And it was almost unsustainable for this one.

In the top of the seventh, Zack Littell entered, replacing Dominic Leone, who allowed just one hit with two strike outs in a scoreless inning, his first since being out with COVID for the last week. Littell is also part of the “recently recovered from COVID” group, so I’m not giving him grief here, but he got roughed up in the seventh tonight. After allowing two singles to Goldschmidt and Tyler O’Neill, Dylan Carlson hit a home run that made everyone nervous, nearly evening up the score.

So those free runs in the eighth? Yeah, a pretty great gift from the Cardinals. Which, if you think about it, was a very fitting way to end a game being played on Buster Posey Day.