DENVER -- It's not often that a San Francisco Giant gets to say this when it comes to a home run record: Move over, Barry Bonds.
The Giants hit their 236th homer of the season on Saturday night, breaking a franchise record set in 2001 when Bonds hit a record 73 homers. The homers that tied and broke that record both came from Brandon Belt, the self-proclaimed Captain who has insisted he will lead the way. He's backing up those words.
Belt hit the tying homer in the first inning when he yanked a Jon Gray fastball deep to right. With two runners on in the fifth inning he got an inside slider and crushed it to the second deck in right to give the Giants a 4-2 lead. The two-homer game was the eighth of Belt's career and third this year.
The previous record-holding Giants team was top-heavy, with Bonds setting the single season record and Rich Aurilia adding 37. This 2021 team broke the record by being historically balanced.
The Giants already have set an MLB record with 17 different players hitting at least five home runs. They also have set franchise records by having 10 different players reach 10 homers and seven different players reach 15. Belt leads the team with 29, which is tied for 15th in the NL.
"I think it's just getting contributions from the entire team, all of the position players," said Brandon Crawford, who has a career-high 22 homers. "From Belt -- Captain Belt -- leading the way, and all of our bench guys have shown some pop, a lot of times in big situations. I think that's how we've done it."
The Giants came to Coors Field needing just five homers to match the 2001 team, and they didn't waste any time. Tommy La Stella kicked off Friday night's win with a leadoff bomb, and both Brandons went deep to tie the game and then put the Giants on top. Mike Yastrzemski broke that game open with a three-run shot in the seventh, his 25th. Yastrzemski and Belt have given the Giants multiple 25-homer hitters for the first time since 2006. Belt has joined Bonds as the only Giants to hit at least 28 since 2002.
The four-homer game on Friday was the 17th of the season for the Giants. They had 17 total four-homer games from 2012 through 2020.
The turnaround has truly been remarkable, with credit going not just to some new players, but a coaching staff that has gotten the most out of veterans like Belt and Crawford, as well as younger players like LaMonte Wade Jr., who never hit more than 11 in the minors but has 18 in his first season with the Giants.
In 2017, the year the downturn started at Oracle Park, the Giants finished a distant last in the big leagues with 128 homers. They were 29th in 2018 and 26th in 2019, but ranked 13th last year in the first season under Gabe Kapler and a new hitting staff. It was a sign of things to come.
"It boils down to talent and then a lot of preparation," Kapler said. "I think these guys have been ready for the moment all year long and I think that has to do with what they're doing pre-game. I don't think there's anything unique about what our hitters are doing, I just think they're well-prepared and they're talented."