WASHINGTON D.C. — Bruce Bochy smiled and shook his head. The numbers don’t make sense to him, either.
“I guess they like home cooking?” he said of a lineup that is having a backwards season.
The Giants walked into Nationals Park on Friday averaging 3.38 runs in 32 games away from AT&T Park. At home, where they happen to, you know, take their at-bats in the worst hitters’ park in the majors, they are averaging 5.03 runs per game.
It makes no sense. A deep and improved lineup is one of the league’s best when at AT&T Park. But put those same hitters in smaller parks, in warmer weather, in thinner air, and they had been turning back into the 98-loss Giants. No team in the National League was averaging fewer runs on the road entering play Friday.
“You go on the road and the parks are a lot more conducive to hitting,” Bochy said in the afternoon. “You look at the past and we’ve hit pretty well on the road. That’s what’s surprising. You could say it doesn’t make sense because it’s a pitchers’ park at home.”
On Friday night, this lineup started to act accordingly. The Giants had 15 hits against the Nationals, and all of the production was needed. Andrew Suarez nearly gave back a 5-0 lead and the Nationals got within a run in the sixth inning, but the Giants struck back with three more in the top of the seventh. They kicked off a long trip with a 9-5 win.
“The bats picked us up. A lot of good things we did offensively, and throughout the lineup,” Bochy said. “Everybody did something to contribute. The thing I liked is we came back and scored a couple times after they scored. That’s always huge.”
The onslaught started early and was all-encompassing. Andrew McCutchen homered in the first inning and Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence highlighted a two-run second with doubles. Alen Hanson, starting at third base for the first time, tripled to lead off the fourth. Gorkys Hernandez hit his seventh homer a couple minutes later. When the Giants ran into trouble, they responded by sending eight hitters to the plate in the top of the seventh. Sandoval and Pence had RBI singles this time around.
The rallies kept Suarez from what could have been a brutal night. He had his best fastball of the season early and struck out four in the first two innings, but he couldn’t maintain it. His command disappeared in the fifth but the lineup had already done enough.
“It was a good feeling. I was already out of the game, but it's nice know we had the lead and with our bullpen it's pretty much game over once they grab the lead,” Suarez said. “Coming here and getting that first game definitely sets the tone."