SAN FRANCISCO — When the Giants posted Thursday’s lineup in the home dugout at Oracle Park, the names of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt were nowhere to be found.
The three longest-tenured position players on the club will all likely start Bruce Bochy’s final game on Sunday, but for much of the last week, the Giants have been content to allow the present to look like the future.
Fans may not know the names of every player that’s taken the field for the Giants this month, but it hasn’t been difficult for them to spot the difference-makers. Rookie infielder Mauricio Dubón and rookie outfielder Mike Yastrzemski rank among those who can’t be missed.
A day after having the wind knocked out of him by Rockies catcher Tony Wolters in a scary infield collision, Dubón finished with three hits, two runs and his fourth home run of the season to lead the Giants past the Rockies in an 8-3 victory.
After being acquired at the July 31 trade deadline in a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers, Dubón spent four weeks at Triple-A. Since being called up, the rangy infielder has done more than enough to merit serious consideration for a starting job come Opening Day in 2020.
In the bottom of the first, Dubón doubled and scored a run against Rockies starter Kyle Freeland and then gave the Giants the lead with a RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to score left fielder Alex Dickerson. The Honduras native is still refining his approach at the plate against major league pitching, but he showed off his surprising power with a seventh inning solo shot and continues to impress with his fluidity at both shortstop and second base.
Yastrzemski entered as a pinch-hitter in the fourth inning of Thursday’s matinee and promptly launched his 21st home run of the season over the brick wall out in right center field at Oracle Park. The 429-foot blast tied him with veteran center fielder Kevin Pillar for the team lead in home runs and gave him a chance to make Giants history.
If Yastrzemski ends the season as the Giants’ home run leader, he’ll be the second rookie in franchise history to do so and the first since Dave Kingman who hit 29 in 1972. Yastrzemski was an afterthought when acquired in a minor league trade from the Orioles in March, but the 29-year-old has slugged his way into the team’s 2020 plans with an outstanding year at the plate.
With a RBI double in the bottom of the eighth to drive in Pillar, Yastrzemski kicked off a four-run rally that included a two-run single from catcher Aramis Garcia.
The day could have turned out even better for Giants rookies, but right-hander Tyler Beede had to depart the mound earlier than anticipated due to injury.
Beede has battled through an up-and-down season as a full-time member of the Giants’ rotation, but he was electric in 3 1/3 innings against Colorado on Thursday. Beede needed just 53 pitches to match his season-high with seven strikeouts as he didn’t allow a baserunner.
After striking out Rockies first baseman Ryan McMahon in the fourth, Beede appeared to grab at his left side before trainer Dave Groeschner and Bochy came to the mound to remove him from the game.
Righty Burch Smith gave up two runs in relief of Beede, but the Giants received impressive performances from a few other young arms on a day they had to stretch their bullpen. Rookie Sam Coonrod recorded a pair of strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings while Enderson Franco zipped a 96-mile per hour fastball past Rockies franchise cornerstone Nolan Arenado to wrap up a successful seventh inning.
Coonrod has spent most of the second half as a set-up man in a Giants bullpen that has been decimated by injuries and has emerged as a leading in-house candidate for a high-leverage role next season. So has right-hander Jandel Gustave, a minor league free agent signee from last offseason who dropped his ERA below 2.00 by striking out the side in the eighth inning Thursday.
Jobs aren’t typically won and lost in September, but it’s a month when eyes can be opened and valuable experience can be gained. From young position players to inexperienced bullpen arms, so many Giants newcomers made the most of their chances on Thursday.
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