Giants

Barry Bonds, Willie Mays give emotional speeches at jersey retirement ceremony

Barry Bonds, Willie Mays give emotional speeches at jersey retirement ceremony

SAN FRANCISCO — Just before 6 p.m. on Saturday evening, Barry Bonds became the 10th player in Giants history to have his number retired. One of the previous nine spent part of Saturday’s ceremony stumping for Bonds to get further recognition. 

Willie Mays was one of several to give a speech Saturday, and he used part of his time to urge voters to put Bonds in the Hall of Fame. Through six years on the ballot, Bonds has not gotten particularly close. 

“The Hall of Fame, when you get there, you see, man, how could I get there,” Mays said. “And I want him to have that honor (and) be something that’s happened to him … vote this guy in.”

Bonds avoided any big picture talk, preferring instead to give an emotional speech in which he thanked family members, including his late father, his coaches going back to college, and teammates and others who stood by his side during one of the best careers in MLB history. Bonds had to stop speaking a couple of times because he was overcome by emotion. At the end, he had a simple message. 

“Thank you San Francisco,” he said. “Thank you for making all my dreams come true. Love you.” 

Five of the nine previous Giants to have their numbers retired were on hand for the ceremony. Mays, Bonds’ godfather, was joined by Willie McCovey, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda and Juan Marichal. Bonds was joined on the field by family members — including his mom, who was escorted onto the field by Brandon Crawford — and former teammates, including Kirk Rueter, Robb Nen and Bobby Bonilla. 

Bruce Bochy sat alongside two other former Bonds managers, Dusty Baker and Jim Leyland. Video messages were sent by Joe Montana, Ronnie Lott, Pudge Rodriguez, Steve Kerr, Steph Curry and Tom Brady, who was booed so loudly that you couldn’t hear his message. The Giants even brought Eric

Gagne back to discuss a legendary confrontation that ended with a Bonds homer to dead center. Gagne said he wanted to challenge the best to do it, and he got beat. 

Bonds’ number was retired 25 years after he joined the Giants as a free agent. Team president and CEO Larry Baer remembered pitching Bonds to come to the Giants as he considered offers from the Yankees and Braves. 

“Barry, clearly choked up, said, ‘If I could come home again, you don’t know what it would mean to me,’” Baer remembered. “Barry came home, and today we make it official, that this ballpark will be his home forever.”

Mike Yastrzemski has seen power surge in first season with Giants

Mike Yastrzemski has seen power surge in first season with Giants

PHOENIX -- Forget three homers for a second, Mike Yastrzemski had never even hit two in a big league game before. He couldn't remember ever hitting three in a minor league game, or at Vanderbilt, or in college or even Little League. 

"Not even in a video game," Yastrzemski said late Friday night. 

MLB rookies are putting up video game numbers this season, and the 28-year-old outfielder has joined the party. His three-homer game Friday helped the Giants edge the Diamondbacks 10-9 in extra innings and made him the first Giants leadoff hitter in history to hit three in a game. 

Yastrzemski never hit more than 15 in a minor league season with the Orioles. Counting his time in Triple-A with the Giants, he now has 28 homers across two levels in just 110 games this season. 

The story is a familiar one in modern baseball. Yastrzemski knew he had to change his profile after last season, so he spent time making minor tweaks while working out at Vanderbilt with former teammate and current Cub Tony Kemp. A few new drills were added, but not to increase the homer count. Yastrzemski was just trying to put the barrel on the ball more consistently and keep the bat in the strike zone longer. 

The results have been stunning. Yastrzemski should sail past the 20-homer mark, which hasn't been hit by a Giant since Brandon Crawford in 2015. He needs just one more to tie Buster Posey's total from his rookie year. 

The third homer last night showed that Yastrzemski still is learning and making adjustments. Earlier this year Yastrzemski expressed regret about letting some hittable pitches get by him early in counts. 

"Those are the pitches you can't let hit the mitt," hitting coach Alonzo Powell told him.

[RELATED: Giants equipped for evolving MLB after six-homer game]

When Yastrzemski came up in the 11th inning Friday, he was ready to be aggressive. Yoan Lopez grooved a first-pitch fastball and it left the park at 106 mph, landing 438 feet away in center field. 

"It's been fun to watch what he's been able to do," center fielder Kevin Pillar said. 

Giants appear to be equipped for changing MLB with six homers in Arizona

Giants appear to be equipped for changing MLB with six homers in Arizona

PHOENIX -- This April, a veteran Giant called a reporter over to his locker and held two baseballs up. One was from 2018 and one was from a start a few days earlier. It was clear then that the balls had changed, and over the summer it has gotten even worse. 

When Mike Yastrzemski hit his third homer in the 11th inning Friday, he became the third rookie in the last week to accomplish the feat. The Giants and Diamondbacks came one homer shy of tying the MLB record of 13 homers in a game, set ... just two months ago. Friday night's game was the first in NL history in which both teams hit six homers. You can go on and on to prove the same point. 

The baseball has changed. Baseball itself has changed. You could even argue it's broken. 

"It ... it looked like we were playing with a Top Flite the way it was flying," manager Bruce Bochy said, a shaken look on his face. "They're getting out quickly, too. They're no-doubters when it gets up there. In this park you're going to give up homers, but you don't think you'll see 12. It's been flying everywhere."

There's little doubt about what's going on -- despite what the commissioner's office might tell you -- and that's bad news for pitchers. The good news for the Giants, though, is that they're finally equipped to handle the change. 

They actually won this shootout, outlasting the Diamondbacks 10-9 in a wild 11-inning game. Yastrzemski, acquired at the end of the spring, became the first Giant since Jarrett Parker to hit three homers in a game, and the first Giants leadoff hitter to do it, period. Pillar, acquired a few days into the season, hit two of his own. Brandon Belt added the sixth. 

On a night when they had to slug it, the Giants did. Their pitchers gave up six homers, but it didn't cost them in the end. 

Pillar said the hitters are trying to keep a consistent approach throughout. When they get on the road, it pays off. They have 86 homers on the road compared to 48 at home. 

Pillar has been a big part of that, but Yastrzemski is the real revelation. He never hit more than 15 homers in a minor league season. This year he has 28 across two levels, including 16 in the big leagues. 

"I've never tried to hit homers," he said. "For whatever reason, it's just kind of been part of the results this year."

Yastrzemski and Pillar were already having good nights when the bullpen blew it. They tacked on in extras. 

[RELATED: Watch Giants rookie Mike Yastrzemski hit three homers vs. Diamondbacks]

Pillar knew Yoshi Hirano wouldn't go back to his splitter with a runner on first, so he sat fastball and blasted the ninth pitch of his 10th-inning at-bat out to left. When Will Smith gave the lead back with two homers, Yastrzemski stepped up. His homer to dead center, the 12th of the night, would finally hold up. 

"I've been part of some rollercoasters," he said. "But nothing like that."