What we learned as Giants edge Padres in series opener originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO — Willie Mays returned to Oracle Park for the first time in a couple of years on Friday night, and the Giants made sure their greatest star didn’t leave the ballpark without a smile on his face.
On a night when they celebrated Mays’ 90th birthday before and throughout the game, the Giants edged the San Diego Padres 5-4. They are 4-3 against the offseason darlings and have opened up a 1 1/2 game lead in the NL West. The slumping Los Angeles Dodgers are 2 1/2 back, the biggest gap in that direction between the rivals since July 27, 2016.
The Giants blew a four-run lead in the sixth, but Austin Slater — rocking a sweet new stache — put them back on top in the seventh. Slater hit a rocket into the arcade for his third homer of the year, giving the bullpen a 5-4 lead.
Manny Machado looked poised to tie it up again, but Mike Yastrzemski ran down what would have been a leadoff triple in the eighth. Tyler Rogers cruised through the rest of the inning and Jake McGee recovered from his Coors Field trouble to lock down the save.
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This isn’t just Buster Posey turning back the clock to 2016 or something. Posey is legitimately as dangerous as he has ever been as a big leaguer, and his homer in the third inning was proof.
Posey went the opposite way and drove a Blake Snell fastball into the arcade to give the Giants an early lead. This was no cheapie that landed on the very top of the wall, either. Posey cleared the seats and might have bounced the ball into the cove had it not hit a fan. The homer was Posey’s third opposite-field shot at Oracle Park, and his first since July 23, 2012. That was when he was at the start of a ridiculous second-half stretch that won him his lone MVP award.
Posey has eight homers through 21 games and is batting .397.
The Disco Ends Early
Anthony DeSclafani started his Giants career with 20 consecutive scoreless innings at Oracle Park, and with the way he was throwing in the first few innings, it looked like that streak would extend deep into the night. DeSclafani was cruising with his fastball-slider approach, but the Padres knocked him out of the game in the sixth.
With a runner on, Trent Grisham, who took some big hacks early, smoked a two-run shot just over the center field wall. DeSclafani gave way to Sam Selman, who allowed another two-run homer to Eric Hosmer. That one tied the game. DeSclafani was charged with three earned on four hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings.
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Hey, It Worked
Camilo Doval had some huge, huge misses with his fastball, throwing one to the backstop and going way up-and-in to Fernando Tatis Jr. But the stuff is so good that Doval can get away with a lack of command sometimes.
The rookie has had a rough stretch, but he put up a 1-2-3 inning against Tommy Pham, Grisham and Tatis, getting a soft grounder, soft flyout and a strikeout. Doval ended the frame by throwing 97 mph past Tatis, who seemed to be sitting slider. It has to be a wildly uncomfortable feeling right now to step into the box against a pitcher who was hitting 100 and kept missing arm side, but Doval got the Giants through the seventh.
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