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Giants are on pace to threaten franchise mark for homers

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Brandon Belt

A few weeks ago, Alex Dickerson shook his head at a question during a Zoom press conference and smiled. He pushed back against the belief, spread throughout the Giants fan base the last two seasons, that closing off the portwalk in right field helped boost the lineup's power numbers, saying the credit needed to go to good hitters instead. 

That's all certainly true, and the coaching staff has had a lot to do with this as well, but there is one bit of outside influence that some within the organization have wondered about. After the Giants all of a sudden turned into a homer-happy team at Oracle Park last summer, some team officials pointed out that the entire home schedule was played in August and September, the hottest months of the year at the ballpark. 

Those April and May night games are brutal on hitters, and there are also plenty of June and July nights when the wind picks up, the temperature drops, and long fly balls die on the warning track. But the rest of this season will present a lot of nights like Wednesday, when it was 72 degrees at first pitch and 63 degrees at the final out of a 13-7 blowout of the Arizona Diamondbacks. 

The ballpark will play smaller as the season goes on, and that's great news for a team that leads the National League with 99 homers. Steven Duggar hit one of the five from the Giants on Wednesday, and on the "Giants Postgame Live," he said the players noticed the ball was carrying early on.

 

"There were a few balls hit in the first from Arizona and they were kinda carrying out to the wall, so yeah, we were just looking to try and get on some pitches early," Duggar said. "It was a good night for the offense for sure."

Duggar went the opposite way for his sixth homer, joining Buster Posey, LaMonte Wade Jr., Wilmer Flores and Brandon Belt on a night when the Giants hit five homers at their home ballpark for the first time since 2003. They surged past the Atlanta Braves for the NL lead and sit tied for second in the Majors, four behind the Toronto Blue Jays. 

The Giants are averaging nearly 1.5 homers per game, putting them on pace for 235 over the course of 162 games. That would tie the franchise record set in 2001 -- Barry Bonds had 73 of them -- and there are plenty of reasons to believe the mark can be broken, aside from the improving weather. 

Duggar and Wade have already set career highs, and they're part of newfound depth that has given Gabe Kapler's group power up and down the lineup no matter how many injuries there are. Belt's homer was his ninth and continued a red-hot stretch in this series. He hits them in bunches, and he hasn't even really had a prolonged hot streak yet. Dickerson, another super-streaky hitter, hasn't had one either. Posey hit his 12th homer on Wednesday, putting him three behind Brandon Crawford for the team lead. Those two lead the pack of rejuvenated Giants. 

And then there's Flores, who has just four homers and has struggled to find his 2020 form. The Giants expect to get a lot more the next 94 games from guys like him and Mike Yastrzemski, who had the big blast Tuesday night.

It could all add up to the type of season the Giants haven't seen in two decades, since Bonds was peppering McCovey Cove and the bleachers every time he got a pitch to hit. At the very least, the Giants are a very strong bet to reach 200 homers for the first time in 20 years and just the sixth time in franchise history. 

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Three of the previous five Giants teams to hit 200 homers won their division, and the 2021 group extended its lead to two games over the Los Angeles Dodgers and six over the San Diego Padres. 

The weather is heating up, but this team hasn't cooled down at all. Duggar called it a good night for the offense, and there should be a lot more of those the next three and a half months. 

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