After breaking into the majors more than 20 years ago as a skinny leadoff hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Barry Bonds has flourished as a power hitter with the San Francisco Giants and been crowned baseball’s new home run king.
The Giants play their next five games against Bonds’ former team, beginning with a three-game series on Friday at AT&T Park.
San Francisco (49-64) has played only one game against the Pirates this season, as two of the three games of their April series in Pittsburgh were postponed due to rain and snow. These teams make up those games immediately following this series as part of a doubleheader on Monday at Pittsburgh (45-66).
Bonds went 3-for-3 with two homers—Nos. 736 and 737—and four RBIs in San Francisco’s 8-5 win at PNC Park on April 13, as the Giants snapped a six-game losing streak to the Pirates.
The 43-year-old became baseball’s home run leader Tuesday, breaking Hank Aaron’s career record with his 756th home run and then hit his 757th on Wednesday. He hit his first homer for Pittsburgh on June 4, 1986.
Bonds hit 176 home runs with the Pirates from 1986-1992, and won the NL MVP Award in 1990 and ’92. Since signing with the Giants, he won five more NL MVP awards and bulked up his physique while becoming the game’s top slugger.
Bonds popped out as a pinch-hitter in Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Washington, but is 12-for-30 (.400) with two home runs in 10 career games against Pittsburgh at AT&T Park.
The 14-time All-Star is just 2-for-14 (.143) with two doubles lifetime against Friday’s starter Matt Morris (7-7, 4.41 ERA), who hasn’t had to wait long to return to San Francisco.
Morris was traded by the Giants at last week’s deadline after opening the season as the team’s No. 3 starter. Morris, who turned 33 on Thursday, joined San Francisco after signing a $27 million, three-year deal in December 2005, and went 17-22 with a 4.73 ERA in 55 starts.
Although the right-hander struggled with the Giants, he was well-liked in the clubhouse and served as a mentor to the young pitching staff.
“We all kind of looked at him that way and we all knew it,” Matt Cain told the Giants’ official Web site. “It didn’t matter if he had a good start or a bad start. He was that guy we were going to go to if something was going on.”
In his first and only start for the Pirates, Morris allowed five runs and nine hits in 6 1-3 innings of Pittsburgh’s 9-8, 10-inning loss. He is winless since June 11, going 0-4 with a 7.66 ERA in his last nine starts.
This will be his first start against the Giants since 2005, when pitching for St. Louis. He is 6-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 12 games—11 starts—lifetime against San Francisco.
The Giants counter with Russ Ortiz (2-2, 5.40), who makes his first start in more than three months against one of his favorite opponents.
Ortiz opened the season as the No. 5 starter in the rotation, but after going 2-2 with a 6.44 ERA in five starts, he was moved to the bullpen following his May 1st outing. He found success as a reliever, throwing 5 2-3 scoreless innings in four appearances, but battled arm problems. The right-hander was placed on the disabled list on June 7 with a strained right forearm.
Ortiz made four rehab appearances with Triple-A Fresno, and in his last start on Saturday, he allowed five runs in five innings of 5-4 loss.
Ortiz recorded his first win of the season over the Pirates after giving up five runs and 10 hits in 8 2-3 innings of an 8-5 victory on April 13. He’s 8-1 with a 3.18 ERA in 13 games—12 starts—lifetime against Pittsburgh.
The Pirates lost to Arizona 4-2 on Thursday, falling to 5-18 since the All-Star break. Freddy Sanchez went 3-for-3 with two doubles, and is 8-for-17 (.471) in his last four games.
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