Baseball’s new home run king will be on the bench Thursday when the Giants wrap up their four-game series with the Washington Nationals at AT&T Park in a matchup between two last-place teams.
Bonds hit his 756th career home run in Tuesday’s 8-6 loss, passing Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list. Perhaps rejuvenated by finally hitting the milestone homer, the 43-year-old left fielder said he wanted to keep playing, and wasted no time showing he still has plenty left in the tank, connecting for No. 757 in his first at-bat Wednesday—his first trip to the plate since the record-breaking shot.
Wednesday’s homer, his 35th splash hit into McCovey Cove behind AT&T’s right field wall, helped lead the Giants (49-63) to a 5-0 win over the Nationals (52-62) and give Bruce Bochy his 1,000th managerial victory.
“That was a great swing,” Bochy said. “That’s the swing we all know. I think last night with the home run it did take a load off him. He can relax a little bit. He can still flat out do things no other player can do, and he showed it tonight.”
Bonds said Tuesday he hopes to play in 2008 and has stated his desire to reach 3,000 hits. He went 1-for-2 Wednesday, leaving him 84 shy of the mark.
But the 43-year-old left fielder often sits out day games following nights games, and said that was his plan for Thursday’s finale.
“Oh, for sure, day game,” he said.
With Bonds sitting out and the circus atmosphere surrounding the chase dissipating, the Giants have a chance to refocus as they enter the ninth game in a stretch of 31 games in 30 days. They have won three of their last four against the Nationals—including two of three in this series—after dropping six straight against them.
“It feels more relaxed now that this thing’s gotten out of the way,” said starter Matt Cain, who homered and earned the win Wednesday. “I think Barry’s relaxed, too.”
The Nationals could also be without one of their sluggers in the finale. Dmitri Young, who is hitting a team-high .333 with 10 homers, left in the second inning Wednesday with tightness in his left hamstring. Young, who apparently hurt himself running out a routine grounder in the first, is hitless in six at-bats since hitting a home run in the 10th inning of Monday night’s 3-2 loss to San Francisco.
“I felt some tightness,” he said. “(Manager) Manny (Acta) took me out for precautionary reasons. I’ll be ready for the weekend.”
The Nationals, who were shut out for the ninth time, had won a season-high six straight games coming into this series. San Francisco’s shutout was its eighth of the season.
The Nationals will try to get their offense going against San Francisco starter Patrick Misch (0-1, 4.38 ERA), who made his first career major league start and eighth appearance on Saturday. He allowed two runs in five innings of the Giants’ 12-inning, 3-2 loss to San Diego after being recalled from Triple-A Fresno.
Misch, who made six relief appearances for the Giants in July and one last season, is facing the Nationals for the first time.
Washington counters with a rookie of its own in Joel Hanrahan (1-0, 3.27), who is making his third major league start. He earned his first win on Saturday, allowing one run in five innings of a 12-1 home victory over St. Louis.
The 25-year-old right-hander gave up three runs in six innings in Washington’s 6-5 road win over the New York Mets on July 28 in his big league debut. He tripled in that game and added a two-run double on Saturday.
“It’s been a long week,” Hanrahan said. “I’ve been waiting for this day to come. It didn’t feel like it would ever get here. I’ve been in the minors for so long, you wonder if you have the stuff to be here.”