PHOENIX -- This April, a veteran Giant called a reporter over to his locker and held two baseballs up. One was from 2018 and one was from a start a few days earlier. It was clear then that the balls had changed, and over the summer it has gotten even worse.
When Mike Yastrzemski hit his third homer in the 11th inning Friday, he became the third rookie in the last week to accomplish the feat. The Giants and Diamondbacks came one homer shy of tying the MLB record of 13 homers in a game, set ... just two months ago. Friday night's game was the first in NL history in which both teams hit six homers. You can go on and on to prove the same point.
The baseball has changed. Baseball itself has changed. You could even argue it's broken.
"It ... it looked like we were playing with a Top Flite the way it was flying," manager Bruce Bochy said, a shaken look on his face. "They're getting out quickly, too. They're no-doubters when it gets up there. In this park you're going to give up homers, but you don't think you'll see 12. It's been flying everywhere."
There's little doubt about what's going on, despite what the commissioner's office might tell you, and that's bad news for pitchers. The good news for the Giants, though, is that they're finally equipped to handle the change.
They actually won this shootout, outlasting the Diamondbacks 10-9 in a wild 11-inning game. Yastrzemski, acquired at the end of the spring, became the first Giant since Jarrett Parker to hit three homers in a game, and the first Giants leadoff hitter to do it, period. Pillar, acquired a few days into the season, hit two of his own. Brandon Belt added the sixth.
On a night when they had to slug it, the Giants did. Their pitchers gave up six homers, but it didn't cost them in the end.
Pillar said the hitters are trying to keep a consistent approach throughout. When they get on the road, it pays off. They have 86 homers on the road compared to 48 at home.
Pillar has been a big part of that, but Yastrzemski is the real revelation. He never hit more than 15 homers in a minor league season. This year he has 28 across two levels, including 16 in the big leagues.
"I've never tried to hit homers," he said. "For whatever reason, it's just kind of been part of the results this year."
Yastrzemski and Pillar were already having good nights when the bullpen blew it. They tacked on in extras.
Pillar knew Yoshi Hirano wouldn't go back to his splitter with a runner on first, so he sat fastball and blasted the ninth pitch of his 10th-inning at-bat out to left. When Will Smith gave the lead back with two homers, Yastrzemski stepped up. His homer to dead center, the 12th of the night, would finally hold up.
"I've been part of some rollercoasters," he said. "But nothing like that."