Giants observations: Historic homer frenzy spoils White Sox home opener

What we learned as homer frenzy powers Giants past White Sox originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

CHICAGO — If the 2023 Giants continue to alternate shutouts with eye-opening displays of power, they are, at the very least, going to be very, very entertaining.

A day after picking up just one hit that left the infield, the lineup busted out against right-hander Michael Kopech and the Chicago White Sox, hitting seven homers — including four in the fifth inning — in a 12-3 win that spoiled Chicago’s home opener.

The Giants went back-to-back twice in the fourth inning, something they had not done since moving to San Francisco, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. The seven-homer performance was their first since July 2, 2002. They fell one short of the franchise record.

That provided more than enough support for Anthony DeSclafani, who hardly needed any at all in his first appearance since June 26. The Giants are now 2-2 on this season-opening road trip through two of America’s great food cities. Here are three things to know:

Home Run Derby

Asked late in the spring about the strength of the offense, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said he thought it might be that the Giants could get 20 homers from just about everyone in the lineup.

They certainly looked headed that way Monday.

The fireworks started in the second inning when Joc Pederson hit a fastball 432 feet for his second homer of the trip. Pederson nearly homered again in the third, but White Sox center fielder Luis Robert reached over the wall in right-center and pulled it back.

The White Sox outfielders had no chance in the fifth inning.

Michael Conforto had struck out in eight of his first 14 at-bats as a Giant, but he got on top of an elevated fastball and hit a 109-mph screamer just over the wall in right. Conforto’s first homer as a Giant was immediately followed by Thairo Estrada’s first of the season.

Two batters later, Mike Yastrzemski yanked a curveball into the visiting bullpen. After going 3-for-25 in the spring, Yastrzemski has five hits through the first four games, including the homer and three doubles. David Villar capped the huge inning by pumping another fastball into the seats in left.

The four-homer frame was the first by the Giants since Sept. 18, 2011, when they did it at Coors Field. That inning was an all-timer, with the homers coming from Pablo Sandoval (twice), rookie Brandon Belt and pitcher Matt Cain.

Villar added his first career grand slam in the ninth and Bryce Johnson hit his first career homer two batters later. The White Sox, having seen enough, finally just put a position player on the mound.

Turn Back The Clock

As DeSclafani warmed up in the visiting bullpen, lefty Sean Manaea played long toss in right field. The plan all along was for Manaea to piggyback DeSclafani, as the Giants didn’t know what they would get with a starter coming back from ankle surgery. There seemed a pretty decent chance that DeSclafani might end up as more of an opener, but he ended up having the type of start that became the norm in 2021.

The right-hander showed off good movement on his sinker and slider, mowing down the White Sox through six shutout innings. DeSclafani allowed just three hits and didn’t walk anyone while striking out four. He got 12 swinging strikes, six coming on his slider.

As entertaining as the home run derby was, DeSclafani looking that sharp certainly was the most encouraging sign of the day for the Giants.

The New Guy

Manaea started to stretch when two runners got on in the fourth but didn’t end up making his Giants debut until the seventh. He immediately showed the increased velocity that was so appealing all spring, although the results weren’t there.

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Manaea had thrown just 20 pitches at 96-plus mph in his first seven seasons in the big leagues, but he did it six times in his first inning as a Giant. His 97.2-mph sinker to Eloy Jimenez was the hardest pitch of his career, edging a fastball he threw to Mike Trout when he was a rookie.

The velocity is promising, but that pitch resulted in a walk, one of two he issued to kick off his outing. Andrew Vaughn’s double got the White Sox on the board and they tacked on a second run in the inning. Manaea gave up a solo homer in his second inning of work.

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