DENVER — One traveled 438 feet. The other landed 416 feet from home plate.
Together, they made for the third multi-homer game of Curt Casali’s career and, with 854 feet and four RBIs between them, were the driving force in the Giants’ 7-6 win over the Rockies in their series opener Monday night inside the high-flying confines of Coors Field.
But it was the ball off Mike Yastrzemski’s bat that traveled 420 feet against Rockies closer Daniel Bard in the ninth inning that broke a 6-6 tie and allowed the Giants to escape a back-and-forth battle with their 11th straight win over Colorado, a streak dating back to last season that is the franchise’s longest against a single opponent since 1965.
With two outs, facing the prospect of extra innings, Yastrzemski turned on a first-pitch slider that Bard left down and in and clubbed it an ever-so-appropriate distance to decide the meeting between Colorado and San Francisco.
It was the final blow in a battle of bullpen performances, after Giants starter Alex Wood matched his shortest start of the season, allowing three runs on six hits over 4⅓ innings, and Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela exited after the second inning with a lower back strain.
Casali’s first homer came on a hanging curveball and tied the game at 1 in the third. His second shot gave the Giants a 4-1 lead. And he scored one of the Giants’ two runs after singling as part of a seventh-inning rally that made it 6-4.
But C.J. Cron and Ryan McMahon ensured the Rockies wouldn’t go silently against San Francisco’s bullpen.
Colorado chased Wood with two outs in the fifth, after three straight base hits produced the Rockies’ second run of the game. His replacement, Dominic Leone, immediately surrendered the first of two RBI singles by Cron, then delivered a first-pitch fastball leading off the sixth inning that McMahon put in the left-field seats, tying the game at 4.
Cron and McMahon each delivered RBI singles off Tyler Rogers that tied the game at 6 in the seventh inning, the first time this season the submarining right-hander has allowed more than one run in his team-leading 16 relief appearances.
Camilo Doval had to navigate both batters again in the ninth inning to protect the one-run lead and record his sixth save, walking Cron but stranding his pinch-runner on first base by getting McMahon to ground out to end the game.
The Giants entered Monday night getting more production from the bottom three hitters in their lineup than all but one team (so happens, the one on the other side of this one), and the quartet of Thairo Estrada, Tommy La Stella, Darin Ruf (who pinch-hit for La Stella) and Casali combined to score or drive in the first six of San Francisco’s runs, before Yastrzemski’s deciding shot in the ninth.
La Stella, in his first game of the season, was pulled for a platoon advantage after Rockies starter Antonio Senzatela exited with a lower back strain and was replaced with left-hander (and former Giant) Ty Blach. He worked a full count but grounded out to the pitcher in his only at-bat.
Estrada flashed his leather at second base, ranging to his right and laying out to take a hit away from McMahon, and also reached base three times, scoring on Casali’s second home run.
Casali, of course, had the two bombs and finished 3-for-3 after adding a single in the seventh inning.
The 438-foot shot was the second-longest by a Giants player this season (trailing only Joc Pederson’s 441-foot blast), pulling the Giants even at 1.
And his second, which traveled 416 feet, was such a no-doubter that Jon Miller’s call on the television broadcast was instantaneous, before the ball even left the yard: “That ball’s gone!”
The only other times Casali had left the yard twice in one game came in back-to-back contests on July 27 and 28, 2015, in his second big-league season with Tampa Bay, when he was first teammates with fellow current Giants Evan Longoria and Jake McGee.
Casali was the second Giant with a multi-homer game this season, joining Pederson, after San Francisco players did it 10 times last season on their way to an MLB-leading 241 home runs.
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Author: Evan Webeck