What we learned as Rodón, Yaz fuel Giants' win over Pirates originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- It wasn't easy, but the Giants got a much-needed win on the first night of an important homestand.
Carlos Rodón went six strong and Mike Yastrzemski drove in three runs as the Giants beat the Pirates 5-3 on Friday night at Oracle Park. With the Giants up by one in the top of the eighth, the young Pirates loaded the bases but lefty Alex Young got out of the jam.
After dropping two of three during a disappointing series in San Diego, the Giants find themselves in one of their easier stretches of the season. After the Pirates, they host the Arizona Diamondbacks and then visit the Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers. If there's a run in them, this is the time, and they got their homestand off to a winning start.
The victory allowed the Giants to keep pace with the Padres, who currently hold the third National League Wild Card spot and lead the Giants by 7 1/2 games. That looked insurmountable on Wednesday, but earlier Friday, the Padres found out that they'll be without suspended superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. for the rest of the year.
Here are three things to know from the first night back at Oracle:
Still Mowing Them Down
Rodón had a strange night in one respect. He had faced 206 batters at Oracle Park coming into the night and allowed just two homers, but both Rodolfo Castro and Ben Gamel took him deep on two-strike fastballs. That was the only damage, though.
Rodón allowed six hits but just those two runs, striking out seven and walking none over six innings. He's up to 168 strikeouts for the year, which is tied for the second-highest total of his career. His high is 185, set last year with the Chicago White Sox, and at this pace he should shoot past that. With Friday's outing, he also passed his innings total from last year.
Yastrzemski is starting to find his power stroke and the Giants certainly need it. After going 15 games without a homer, he hit two on Sunday in Oakland. On his first night back in San Francisco, Yastrzemski homered in his first at-bat. The opposite-field blast was his 12th of the year.
Yastrzemski got another RBI on a fielder's choice grounder and caught a break when Bryan Reynolds tripped in center field, allowing a fly ball to drop for an RBI double. Yastrzemski had a pair of three-RBI games in the first four months of the season but now has two of them in the last week.
The New Guy
The J.D. Davis-Darin Ruf trade has worked out well for the Giants, as Davis already has three homers in orange and black. But the Giants got much more than just Davis, also acquiring two low-level pitchers and lefty Thomas Szapucki, who was a starter with the New York Mets organization but was moved to the bullpen in Triple-A last month. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said recently that having Szapucki involved was "really a big part of that deal."
"He's been shortened up and moved to the pen and we think he can really help us," Zaidi said.
The 26-year-old was called up from Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, replacing Yunior Marte in the bullpen. He probably won't remember his Giants debut fondly. Greg Allen greeted Szapucki by hitting his third pitch into the left field seats. After a single and wild pitch, he struck out Jason Delay with a big curveball. That was it for Szapucki, as John Brebbia took over and got out of the inning.
It wasn't an ideal start, but the Giants will keep testing Szapucki. They're short on left-handed relievers and believe he can be part of the solution down the stretch.