Giants observations: Carlos Rodon, three homers power win over Guardians

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What we learned as Rodón, bats power Giants past Guardians originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

CLEVELAND -- When Giants manager Gabe Kapler was asked before Friday's game if Carlos Rodón would still be on a pitch count in his second start, he gave a long and detailed explanation about why a limit was important. Rodón has had his career derailed by injuries at times, and last season he threw a lot of pitches in April, which possibly led to some shoulder fatigue down the stretch.

"One of the things I think the industry is pretty confident in is one way to protect pitchers is through a long, slow ramp," Kapler said. "Not making any sort of big leaps and really being thoughtful about little by little building pitchers up."

The plan was to be careful, but Rodón was so efficient against the Cleveland Guardians that he got through seven innings anyway in a 4-1 win at Progressive Field. He needed just 47 pitches to cruise through five and 68 pitches to get through six.

Rodón ran into some trouble in the seventh, but he reached back to finish the Guardians off, walking off with just two hits and one run on his line. Six days after striking out 12 Miami Marlins, Rodón struck out nine Guardians. They're probably pretty sick of him at this point. Thursday was the one-year anniversary of Rodón's no-hitter against Cleveland.

The Giants backed Rodón with the kind of power display that became so regular last season. Brandon Crawford, Joc Pederson and Joey Bart all homered, with the rookie catcher picking up his first career bomb on the road.

Matching The Debut

Rodón set the bar extremely high in his Giants debut, striking out 12 in five innings. The raw power wasn't quite the same throughout on Friday, but he was sharper and did more damage with his breaking balls.

The fastball was still elite when he needed it, too, and he topped out at 99.3 mph, tying Tim Lincecum and Kevin Gausman for the fastest pitch thrown by a Giants starter in the last 15 years. Rodón had plenty left in the tank at the end, hitting 99 mph in his final two innings.

Rodón picked up more velo as he went, hitting 98 or above eight times after the fourth inning. Through two starts, he has thrown 23 pitches at 98 or above, more than any Giants starter since peak Lincecum.

With 21 strikeouts, Rodón leads the Majors, and he sits second on the franchise list for most strikeouts through two starts in a season. Cliff Melton had 22 of them in his first two starts in 1937.

Check Another One Off The List

It took 12 years, but Crawford finally played a game in Cleveland, leaving just one ballpark he has yet to visit as a big leaguer: Minnesota. With his second swing in Cleveland, Crawford crushed a no-doubter to right for his first homer of the year.

Crawford has now homered in 24 different ballparks, including all of them in the National League. He'll get his shot to add Minnesota to the list in August when the Giants make their first trip to Target Field.

Joc Jam

Pederson's first homer as a Giant came in an odd situation. He took San Diego Padres outfielder Wil Myers deep in the eighth inning of Tuesday's drama-filled blowout. "It was obviously off a position player," Pederson said that night, "But it still felt good."

Friday night's blast did, too. Zach Plesac grooved a fastball and Pederson crushed it 410 feet to right-center, cutting through the swirling wind. The ball left the bat at 106 mph.

Pederson's second as a Giant gave him 150 career big league homers.