Giants take down Sandy Alcantara with excellent situational hitting
Giants' situational hitting fuels win over Alcantara, Marlins originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SAN FRANCISCO -- Gabe Kapler leaned back on the couch in his office a few minutes after a 4-3 win over the Miami Marlins and smiled as he summed up the Giants' approach.
"I thought the situational hitting was good tonight," he said, using air quotes as he said "situational."
The Giants always gently push back on the outside notion that they're too homer-dependent and don't know when to shorten up with two strikes or make a productive out with runners in scoring position. They teach their hitters to have the same approach at just about all times: Look for a pitch you can do damage on and try to drive it to the middle of the field. Sometimes, both ways of thinking can line up.
With runners in scoring position in the sixth, both J.D. Davis and Michael Conforto found themselves facing two-strike counts against Sandy Alcantara, one of the game's best pitchers.
Davis got his foot down early and skied a 99 mph fly ball to right to tie the game. Conforto took his usual up-the-middle approach and lined a pitch to center fielder for a second consecutive sacrifice fly, this one giving the Giants a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
A team with just seven sacrifice flies all season got two in a huge spot, against one of the game's best, and that was the difference. It doesn't really matter what you call it. The end result was the same for the Giants, who have won all four games at home this week while hitting just one homer.
"Most of that is just an indication that we have a good middle-of-the-field approach and line-drive approach," Kapler said of the rally. "I don't think you have to do anything special in that situation except grind mentality and look for a pitch up in the zone and try to get it in the air like both J.D. and Conforto were able to do."
For as good as those two plate appearances were, the most important one came earlier. The first run came across when Mitch Haniger, who has struggled since coming off the IL, drove an RBI double to the wall in left. Kapler said that one sent a jolt through the dugout.
"Sandy is about as tough a customer as there is in the league and he was pretty tough tonight, too," he said of Alcantara. "We needed to send a message that we could hang in there and the only way to do that is to get one or two big hits. That first one from Hanny, I think it set the tone for our offense."
RELATED: Bailey joins Schmitt as prospects fast tracked to big leagues
Haniger still is not where he wants to be, but the two-hit night was a step in the right direction and an indication that some of the changes he's making in the cage are sticking. He got the offense going on a night when the Giants showed how deep this lineup can be when healthy, especially with the addition of Casey Schmitt.
Schmitt turned on 98 mph to add an insurance run in the sixth, and it would be needed. He was one of eight Giants starters to reach base on a night when they faced one of their toughest tasks of the season. By beating Alcantara, they now have followed a sweep of the reigning NL champions with a win over the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner.
"That's what good lineups do," Haniger said of the night. "It was solid at-bats one through nine."
Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast