How 'nasty sliders' help Mike Yastrzemski, Giants before games

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How 'nasty sliders' help Yaz, Giants during BP before games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

Batting practice before games is supposed to be time for a hitter's own personal Home Run Derby, right? Not if you're Giants hitting coach Donnie Ecker. 

Prior to the Giants' crazy 9-8 comeback win over the Arizona Diamondbacks, Ecker wasn't tossing up easy pitches right down the middle. In fact, it was the exact opposite. 

Giants play-by-play announcer Dave Flemming told a great story Wednesday on 95.7 The Game's "Morning Roast" of watching batting practice and witnessing something he has never seen prior to a game. Flemming said the Giants were hitting off two machines: One throwing fastballs up to 96 mph and one tossing "nasty sliders." 

He had to ask Ecker what was going on. 

"He said, 'Practice dirty, play clean,' " Flemming said of Ecker's answer to him. "He said, 'Practice dirty, play clean. Practice to make mistakes. Challenge yourself, push yourself, make it hard, make it not fun. And then when the game comes around, you play clean and it feels a lot easier.' "

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That certainly worked for the Giants and Mike Yastrzemski

The hero of the night worked hours upon hours with Ecker and fellow hitting coach Dustin Lind to find his swing. That turned into a grand slam to remember for the ages off a breaking ball with two strikes and two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving the Giants the lead after trailing 8-5. 

"We were just working on my path all day and really trying to keep everything moving towards the middle of the field," Yastrzemski said after the win. "That was kind of the exact swing that we worked on -- I got a pitch that was middle-in and didn't try and do too much with it, didn't try and yank it.

"I just tried to stay through it and I just put a good swing on it."

RELATED: Five crazy stats from Giants' epic comeback win over D-backs

The Giants are putting the work in, and it's resulting in wins. A whole lot of wins. 

As manager Gabe Kapler coaches with a "next man up" mantra, "practice dirty, play clean" just might be the Giants' new slogan to stay atop the NL West.

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