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Yaz providing Giants with the power they've been missing

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Somewhere along the line, they stopped talking about hitting 30 homers at Oracle Park.

Just having a hitter get to 20 was a monumental task in most recent seasons, with a three-year drought between Brandon Crawford's 2015 season and the trio that reached the mark last season. The Giants long ago figured out that they couldn't draw power hitters to Third and King, and they haven't developed their own, either.

There were years when Brandon Belt looked like he might break through, but injuries always popped up. Buster Posey's power disappeared as the innings piled on. Homegrown outfielder Adam Duvall did twice hit 30, but in a Reds uniform. 

There won't be 30 homers from anyone in the big leagues this season, but the Giants can finally legitimately claim that they have that type of hitter back in their lineup. When Mike Yastrzemski lofted a shot to the arcade in the third inning, he set the Giants on their way to a 10-1 win over the Mariners and reached 30 for his career. 

Yastrzemski wasn't a Giant until May 25 last year, but he now has played 151 games as a Giant over two years, with 30 homers, a .280 average and an .891 OPS. 

It has been fun for fans to watch, and for Yastrzemski's teammates, as well. Asked what it's like playing with Yastrzemski right now, lefty Tyler Anderson smiled and said he mostly watches Yastrzemski just like fans do.   

 

"He's really good. Really good," Anderson deadpanned. "And he hits lefties and righties, which is pretty cool."

His ninth homer of 2020 came against a lefty, Nick Margevicius, who was cruising early but fell apart after Yastrzemski took him deep. The homer was Yastrzemski's fifth against a lefty this year and ninth in two years. 

Yastrzemski hit 21 homers as a rookie, but his game has grown by leaps and bounds since last season, particularly in tight spots. His homer was his eighth with two strikes, the most in the majors. 

"I think it's just a comfort level of hitting with two strikes," manager Gabe Kapler said. "He got the fastball down and in and had seen several fastballs and taken good swings on the fastball. He was right on it."

Yastrzemski got to 30 career homers in 533 at-bats, which is about the equivalent of a full season. Perhaps next year he'll get to take aim over 162 games, giving the Giants their most powerful everyday presence in years. It has been seven seasons since Hunter Pence hit 27 homers, but you have to go all the way back to Barry Bonds in 2004 to find a Giant who hit 30. 

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Right now, the Giants have above-average power back in their lineup, and Yastrzemski isn't alone. The 10-1 win gave them 15 wins in their last 20 games. In five of those wins, the Giants have scored at least eight runs, but they're about to face one of their toughest tests of the season. The only team hotter over the last three weeks -- the San Diego Padres -- is waiting at Petco Park for a four-game series. 

"It's going to be a big series for us," said rookie Joey Bart, who had two more hits Wednesday. "We're pumped up about it. Hopefully we can carry some of the things we've been doing lately into San Diego and win some games."