WASHINGTON D.C. -- There will be a fair amount of talk over the coming months about the possibility of fences moving in at Oracle Park, but simply sticking a couple of bullpens in Triples Alley won't solve the lineup's biggest problem.
The power drain has traveled in recent seasons.
The Giants finished 13th in the National League with 80 road homers in 2017 and dead last in 2018 with just 73. Players will tell you this is in part because their swings get tailored to Oracle Park, where anything that gets up too high in the air in right field will get knocked down.
"You can't change your swing back and forth," Brandon Belt said Tuesday afternoon.
No, but you certainly can take advantage of the nights away from Third and King, and the Giants did that Tuesday while kicking off their first road trip outside the division. Belt, Evan Longoria and Steven Duggar all homered off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth and sixth, sparking a 7-3 win over the Nats.
“Last year, we couldn’t figure it out on the road in some hitters’ parks,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “This one is somewhat fair but it’s good to see us hit the long ball on the road. That’s going to be big for us.”
With three homers already, the Giants are close to matching their five on the season-opening seven-game trip. They had just four three-homer games on the road last year and two game at Coors Field and one at Chase Field. Nationals Park is considered to be one of the more fair ballparks in the National League, but the Giants made it look small for a few minutes.
Longoria kicked it off with a game-tying oppo shot in the fifth. Like Longoria, Duggar jumped on a fastball and went the opposite way to make it a three-run inning. It was the second of the year for the leadoff hitter, who has gotten off to a slow start.
“I know I’m at my best when I’m driving the ball to the opposite field,” Duggar said. “You make a couple adjustments a couple days ago, stay with it, stick with it, and eventually something good happens. That was just the thought process and you let it ride.”
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An inning later, Belt padded the lead by yanking a low screamer into the home bullpen.
Duggar's might have been the only one to sneak out at Oracle Park, but the Giants won't worry about that. They have eight games on this important trip, and they'll need all the power they can get to support what has thus far been a very good pitching staff.