What we learned as Yankees' sluggers crush Giants again

What we learned as Yankees’ sluggers crush Giants again originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO — In the offseason, the Giants tried to add players who could flip a game with one swing. Their most notable addition, Jorge Soler, spent Saturday afternoon working on his swing mechanics, and he was out of the starting lineup because of a prolonged slump.

On the other side, the New York Yankees came to town with a lineup filled with power, and that led them to a 7-3 win on Saturday at Oracle Park. Aaron Judge homered early and Giancarlo Stanton homered late, leaving the Giants back below .500 overall and 2-3 on the toughest homestand of the season. They’ll send Blake Snell to the mound Sunday in hopes of salvaging the final game of this series.

The start of Saturday’s game was simply a continuation of Friday’s game. After hitting two homers in his first career game at Oracle Park, Judge hit one of the longest bombs in the park’s history in his first at-bat against Logan Webb, one of the Giants who tried to recruit him two years ago.

The Yankees scored four times in the first three innings and had Webb on the ropes, but he plugged the leaks and hung around long enough for the lineup to inch back. Casey Schmitt got two runs back with a homer and Brett Wisely added an RBI single in the fifth.

The Giants got the tying run to second in the seventh, but could not score. Ryan Walker was a strike away from blowing away the side on 10 pitches in the top of the eighth, but Judge reached on an infield single, and from there the wheels came off. Alex Verdugo’s triple brought one run home and a two-run blast by Stanton — another former Giants offseason target — made it a four-run game.

Mr. Durability

It’s become kind of a habit by now. There are nights when Webb is shaky early, and then Bob Melvin looks up in the seventh and his ace is somehow still out there. That was the case Saturday, when Webb gave up four early runs but stuck around for a season-high 108 pitches. He pitched through the seventh for the seventh time in 13 starts, and he moved back on top of MLB’s innings leaderboard.

The biggest out came in the fifth and it came against Judge. The Giants had intentionally walked him his second time up and Webb went 2-0 with a runner on third. But this time he was allowed to keep pitching to the game’s hottest hitter, and he blew a 93 mph fastball past him to end the inning.

Putting on a show

What would Judge do for an encore? It didn’t take long to find out. With a runner on in the first, he murdered a changeup from Webb and nearly cleared the bleachers in left field. The homer went an estimated 464 feet and was hit 115.7 mph, making it one of the loudest non-Bonds blasts in Oracle Park’s history.

Since pitch tracking began in 2008, Judge is just the second player to hit a homer at Oracle that was 460-plus feet and 115-plus mph off the bat. The other came from Kennys Vargas, a fun fact that surprised this researcher just as much as it’s surprising you right now. Vargas, then with the Minnesota Twins, took Jeff Samardzija 471 feet to right-center in 2017, but that one came during a day game in more favorable conditions for hitters.

Judge’s homer was the seventh at Oracle Park in the pitch tracking era (since 2008) of at least 460 feet. It was the hardest-hit ball here since a Joc Pederson single last April.

Casey crushing

From the slick bat drop, you wouldn’t expect that Schmitt’s homer was his first of the year, but it was in fact his first in the big leagues since he hit two against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the final game of the 2023 season. Schmitt jumped on a sinker from fill-in starter Cody Poteet and hit a no-doubter to left, cutting the deficit in half and bringing some life back to a ballpark that was threatening to turn into Yankee Stadium.

Schmitt has struggled at the plate this season, but there’s no doubt that he’s a big leaguer defensively, and some on San Francisco’s staff were bummed to see him sent down last month when the front office decided to take a look at Marco Luciano at short.

Nick Ahmed, the Opening Day starter, began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Saturday and should be back soon. Ahmed and Brett Wisely seem like the ones who will handle shortstop, but Schmitt certainly made a statement Saturday.

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