Giants

How Alex Dickerson became Giants' best hitter at Oracle Park this season

How Alex Dickerson became Giants' best hitter at Oracle Park this season

The Giants would be nowhere this season without Alex Dickerson. That's a fact, as is saying most Giants fans had never heard of Dickerson before this season. 

Dickerson, 29, was acquired by the Giants in a trade with the Padres on June 10. Less than two weeks later, he made his team debut when he hit a grand slam and drove in six runs against the Diamondbacks on June 21.

Suddenly, the Giants are the hottest team in baseball and sit just three games back of the second NL wild card spot. Since Dickerson debuted with the orange and black, the Giants have gone 15-7. Before his arrival, they were 31-42. 

"The vibe is kind of a calm confidence," Dickerson said Wednesday morning on KNBR regarding the Giants' clubhouse right now.

While the Giants can't be stopped, neither can Dickerson. Since joining the Giants, he's been one of the best hitters in baseball. 

What has been most impressive by Dickerson's dominance at the plate are his stats at Oracle Park. Through 10 games in San Francisco, the left-handed hitting outfielder has a .379 batting average with two home runs and a 1.195 OPS.

For Dickerson, it all starts with the right mindset. 

"You always have to step in the box with that confidence that you're gonna get the job done. You gotta take the park out of it," Dickerson said. "Honestly, I never hit too well there until that last home stand and it took my hitting coach Alonzo Powell telling me, 'Hey, that bay isn't out of reach for you. You gotta challenge it.'

"I realized that I was trying to do something different than what I wanted to do as far as driving the baseball." 

Dickerson is a powerful hitter at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds. He quite literally began telling himself he could hit the ball to McCovey Cove, and the results followed. 

"You gotta play to your strengths and for me, being able to drive a ball to that pull-side gap, that really opens up a lot of stuff for me," Dickerson said. 

All four of Dickerson's home runs this year have been hit to right-center field or right field. Through 31 games between the Giants and Padres, 27 percent of his batted balls have been hit to right-center field and 26 percent have gone to right field, according to Baseball Savant

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The Giants are hitting nearly 20 points higher on the road this season and only have 34 home runs at Oracle Park compared to 67 on the road this season. Though the offense as a whole has struggled in San Francisco, Dickerson seems to have the horrors of Oracle Park figured out. 

It's simple: Aim for the water. 

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're at all surprised by Johnny Cueto's first two starts back from Tommy John surgery, you probably shouldn't be. 

After all, this is a pitcher who had a 0.84 ERA through the end of April last season when he felt constant pain in his elbow and knew that surgery could be in his near future. Cueto found a way to fool hitters back then, and the Giants were always optimistic that he would find his form once he returned. Even by that standard, though, the first two starts have been impressive. 

Cueto threw five more shutout innings Sunday, giving him 10 scoreless frames in his return. He has allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out six. He would have picked up a second win Sunday, but the bullpen temporarily coughed up the lead. The Giants would go on to beat the Marlins 2-1 when Mike Yastrzemski dashed home on a wild pitch in the eighth. 

"I don't know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this, but you look at how he's throwing the ball and it's Johnny before his surgery," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's four pitches with command. He commands the ball, cuts it, mixes up his delivery -- and that works."

The Giants needed every scoreless inning, because right now they're out there with a lineup that's providing absolutely no punch. Cueto did his best to make an early Mauricio Dubon homer hold up, and he showed a sense of the moment as his day was coming to a close. 

Cueto had a long fourth inning and was 10 pitches from his predetermined count when he went out for the fifth. The bullpen was humming, but Cueto got through the inning on just six pitches. Then he popped into the dugout and asked Bochy for the sixth. 

"It was like Johnny knew it," Bochy said. "He got some quick outs."

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Bochy joked that he would let Cueto go 120 pitches if possible, but the restraints are still on and will be for the rest of this season. Cueto could get to 80-85 pitches in his next start and said he hopes to be cleared for 100 in his season finale. With the way he's throwing right now, that might be enough to take a shot at a shutout. 

Giants vs. Marlins lineups: Mike Yastrzemski's first start in center field

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Giants vs. Marlins lineups: Mike Yastrzemski's first start in center field

Before embarking on their final road trip of the 2019 season, the Giants will host the Miami Marlins in a matinee to close out a three-game series at Oracle Park.

Getting the start for San Francisco is Johnny Cueto, who wowed the crowd at China Basin in his season debut last week, allowing only one hit in five innings with four strikeouts in a Giants win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Cueto is 4-2 in 10 career starts against Miami but owns a 5.09 ERA in those outings.

Opposite the Giants ace will be 24-year-old Elieser Hernandez. The right-hander has a 3-5 record in 14 starts this season, with a 5.24 ERA. 

Coverage begins at noon PT with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area and streaming live in the MyTeams app.

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Here are the lineups for Marlins-Giants:

Miami Marlins (52-96)
SS Miguel Rojas
2B Isan Diaz
3B Starlin Castro
1B Neil Walker
C Jorge Alfaro
RF Lewis Brinson
CF Magneuris Sierra
LF Jon Berti
RHP Elieser Hernandez (3-5, 5.24 ERA)
 
San Francisco Giants (71-78)
CF Mike Yastrzemski
1B Brandon Belt
3B Evan Longoria
LF Stephen Vogt
SS Brandon Crawford
RF Mike Gerber
LF Joey Rickard
2B Mauricio Dubon
RHP Johnny Cueto (1-0, 0.00 ERA)