The Texas Rangers center fielder dug into the right-handed batter's box and looked briefly to his dugout. As he tightened his gloves, the Giants' catcher unsnapped a band on his left wrist and looked at the game plan.
Tyler Heineman has been watching Scott Heineman for 27 years, but when you're nine games into the biggest season of your career, you can't be too careful. You check and recheck the scouting report, even if you know it better than anyone on earth.
"When the game goes on, it's just a hitter up there," Tyler said after a 7-3 Giants win. "Obviously I know it's my brother, but with all these things formulating on my mind on what pitch to call, what we need to try and set up for the next time, what he's seen already in previous at-bats, it's just about trying to execute the pitch. No matter who the hitter is."
The Heinemans met before the game for a photo opp set up by their managers and swapped jerseys afterward at the request of their father, who wanted to own both Tyler's Giants jersey and Scott's Rangers jersey from this special night. But between those moments, it was a serious battle for nine innings. Well, almost all of nine innings.
Happy Baseball Season from The Heinemans pic.twitter.com/Gqc9CelXsc— SFGiants (@SFGiants) August 2, 2020
If you had the sound off on your TV and stayed off Twitter, you wouldn't have known during the game that these two rookies were brothers. They played it cool, but when Scott lined a one-out homer into the arcade in right field in the ninth inning, it appeared that Tyler was trying to stifle a smile as his brother touched the plate a few feet in front of him and pointed to the sky.
Tyler gets the win, Scott gets the homer. Win-win for their parents. pic.twitter.com/JlnTeYZ7Mm— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) August 2, 2020
"Obviously the W is the most important thing," Tyler said.
"If he would have gotten a single, it would have been a little bit better for me," he said, smiling. "I don't think I'll be able to live that down."
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This was their third matchup as professionals, and both minor league games went the same way. Scott has been 1-for-4 each time, but that one hit has been a homer each time. This latest blast, which was Scott's first hit of the year and came on a pitch his brother called, might make for an easier Thanksgiving dinner. At the very least, it certainly made this night a win-win for the parents.
One brother got the win, the other got a homer. The Heineman parents can be proud of another element of this series, too. Their boys are taking a season played during a pandemic as seriously as they possibly can.
Tyler and Scott worked out together throughout the three-month break, but when the Rangers arrived Thursday night, there was no reunion. Tyler said the brothers had not seen each other off the field.
"We're trying to be as strict as possible with COVID protocols," Tyler said. "We're just going to and from the ballpark. No dinner, no hanging out in the hotel room or anything like that."
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They text every day, but they're putting safety first this weekend and focusing on their craft. Tyler is off to a good start, and manager Gabe Kapler has complimented him for the way he has handled the staff. There's a blemish on that record, though. Tyler smiled when asked if he knows all of Scott's weaknesses and tried to use them to the Giants' advantage Saturday.
"Yeah, but apparently not good enough," he said.
Tyler Heineman, Giants come out on top despite brother Scott's homer originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area