Rewind: Giants' Parker 'speechless' after record day


Rewind: Giants' Parker 'speechless' after record day

OAKLAND — Jarrett Parker was home in Virginia two weeks ago, having been passed over for a September call-up despite the fact that he was on the 40-man roster and the Giants were in need of healthy bodies. 

Parker didn’t have any big plans after a long season that included a disappointing cameo with the Giants. He was going to spend time with his family, hang out with some friends. He wasn’t planning on playing winter ball, meaning his next swings would come at Scottsdale Stadium next spring. 

Parker has guaranteed himself a spot in that spring clubhouse, and after one of the hottest stretches in franchise history, he has put himself in a position to compete for an Opening Day spot. 

“He’s made a lot of noise since he’s been up here,” manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday. “He’s opened up a lot of eyes.”

Bochy’s eyes have watched players like Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds, but after Parker hit three homers, including a go-ahead grand slam, in a 14-10 win over the A’s, Bochy said he has never seen a player have the kind of day Parker had.

“That’s the best offensive game I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s just an amazing day for this kid. To do what he did today, it really is amazing. The kid has been locked in since he came in. He makes it look so easy.”

Parker has six homers in 18 at-bats since his dad dropped him off at the airport on the way to work at the Pentagon two weeks ago. He has five in his last nine at-bats, and when he hit the first pitch from Ryan Dull deep to right in the eighth inning Saturday, he joined some impressive lists.

[INSTANT REPLAY: Parker hits three homers, Giants storm past A's]

He is the first Giant since Barry Bonds in 2004 to homer five times in nine at-bats. He is the first Giants rookie since Brandon Belt in 2011 to homer in three straight games. He is the first MLB rookie since Andrew McCutchen in 2009 to homer three times in a game. He is the first Giant since Pablo Sandoval in 2013 to hit three homers in a game. 

Those are all well and good, but this fact blew Parker away: He is the first Giant to hit three homers and drive in seven runs since Willie Mays in 1961. 

“That’s unbelievable. I’m speechless,” Parker said. “I can’t even respond to that. To be mentioned in that kind of company, it’s unbelievable.”

Parker is soaking in every second of his third stint in the big leagues, because he knows how fleeting these moments can be. He was called up with Matt Duffy last August 1, but while Duffy became a key bench piece on a title team, Parker was sent back down to Triple-A without having ever gotten into a game. When he came up briefly this June, Parker went 1 for 9 with five strikeouts. Coaches were disappointed with his passive approach, and Bochy went as far as to say publicly that Parker wasn’t big league ready.

Parker sat back, soaked it all in — and vowed to be different the next time he got the call. He didn’t know when he would get another chance, but he promised himself that he would be more aggressive the next time he took a big league field.

“I’m just letting it hang out on the line,” he said. “Earlier in the year when I was called up, I was hesitant.”

Parker homered on a first-pitch fastball in the seventh and the grand slam was also on a first-pitch heater. Three of his six homers have been on the first pitch and one came on a 1-0 count, but he has shown some versatility during this Bonds-like stretch. His 474 foot homer off Dull on Friday was on a full count, and his first homer Saturday came on a 2-2 fastball that Barry Zito left up after buckling Parker with a curveball. 

In two games here in Oakland, Parker has homered off a righty and two lefties. He has homered to all three sections of the field and he has homered to the upper deck in center, which is considered just about off limits to hitters. He could be at eight homers right now, too. His double at AT&T Park would have been out of most parks, and A.J. Pollock reached over the fence to rob him of a blast on the last homestand. 

“It’s an effortless swing,” Bochy said. “It’s got a different sound to it when he hits it. He looks like The Natural right now with the way he’s swinging the bat.”

Bochy also compared Parker to Bonds, saying that like the all-time home run leader, Parker’s fly balls always seem to just carry and carry until they’re deep into the seats. This all raises expectations, of course, and the Giants will have to look at all sides of the conversation when discussing Parker’s future role. He’s 26 already and struck out in 37 percent of his minor league at-bats this season, and at some point teams will adjust and stop throwing Parker so many fastballs. There will be a book on Parker, but the A’s are having trouble finding the right page. Asked how else the A’s can try and get Parker out, catcher Stephen Vogt said he doesn’t know what the answer is.

“I tried to get him to smile,” Vogt said. “That kid’s locked in. I tried to make jokes with him, tried to get him to laugh, tried to get him to smile when he has come up to hit. There’s no doing that right now. He’s hitting everything right now.”

Parker did finally crack a smile Saturday. He couldn’t help himself when he crossed the plate and saw a whole team -- including a giddy Tim Hudson -- pouring out of the dugout. If Parker stays hot through his next Cactus League season, he could be standing next to those veterans on Opening Day. 

That’s a conversation for the offseason and March. On Saturday, after one of the best days a Giants hitter has ever had, Parker wasn’t worried about 2016. He was still trying to figure out how to sum up one of the last games of 2015.

“It was awesome,” he said, smiling. “It was awesome.”

Dereck Rodriguez sets second-half tone, leads Giants to win vs A's

Dereck Rodriguez sets second-half tone, leads Giants to win vs A's


OAKLAND — To make a run at a division title, the Giants need Dereck Rodriguez to match his big first half. Perhaps the rookie has bigger plans. 

Rodriguez took the ball on the first night of the second half and allowed just one run on three hits against a tough A’s lineup. He departed with one out in the seventh and the bullpen took it home, clinching a 5-1 win that evened this Bay Bridge series at two games apiece. 

Here's what you need to know from the first game back... 

--- Rodriguez walked none and struck out five. He lowered his ERA to 2.72. 

--- With Brandon Belt on the paternity list, Ryder Jones was called up for a spot start. He certainly made the most of it. Jones jumped on a 2-0 slider from Edwin Jackson in the fifth, smacking a homer off the right field foul pole. The blast was the third of the 24-year-old’s career. He hit two last season as a rookie. 

--- Andrew McCutchen had a pair of sliding catches. The robbery of Jonathan Lucroy in the fifth inning had a catch probability of just 66 percent. 

--- Pablo Sandoval hit a no-doubter to right in the seventh inning. It was his 14th homer since returning to the Giants last summer, matching his total in Boston. 

--- The A’s announced a crowd of 45,606, a sellout. They’re expecting a few thousand more on Saturday.

Up for one night, Ryder Jones takes advantage of Giant opportunity

Up for one night, Ryder Jones takes advantage of Giant opportunity

OAKLAND -- In the seventh inning Friday night, 26-year-old starter Dereck Rodriguez gave way to 25-year-old Reyes Moronta. Rodriguez jogged to the dugout and sat next to Andrew Suarez, 25, and the two rookies watched Moronta strand a runner. A few minutes later, 24-year-old center fielder Steven Duggar strolled to the plate and roped a single into right. 

There's a youth movement in San Francisco, but you might have known that already. Rodriguez, Suarez and Moronta were a big part of the story of the first half and Duggar made waves over the final week. 

What you might not have realized is that another player in the middle of all the action Friday night is actually younger than all four of them. Ryder Jones got 150 big league at-bats last season and had not been seen since, and it's often easy to write a player off when he disappears for a stretch. But Jones, a former second-round pick, is still just 24. He was born seventh months after Duggar, who previously was the youngest player on the roster. 

There's still plenty of time for Jones to find his stride and live up to the promise he has shown at times. On Friday, there was another flash of that talent. Jones hit a long solo homer in the fifth, giving the Giants a lead they would never let go. With a 5-1 win over the A’s, the Giants got their second half off to a rocking start and tied this Bay Bridge Series at two games apiece. 

Jones is likely headed back to Sacramento. The plan was for him to come up for one day to fill in while Brandon Belt witnessed the birth of his second son, and he certainly took advantage of the opportunity.

“I thought the homer was huge for him,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was huge for us. He’s been doing a nice job there in Sacramento the last month. He’s doing what we were hoping this year, having another big year. That’s all he needs is at-bats and experience. He’s got the tools to be a nice big-league player.”

Jones struck out in his first at-bat, but got ahead in the count 2-0 the next time up. Edwin Jackson tried to sneak a slider across the inside of the plate and Jones crushed it. Both players leaned — in different directions — and watched as the ball clanked high off the pole. 

The Giants are leaning heavily on rookies this year, but Jones was part of a 2017 class that never found footing. Just about every player in that group got hurt, and most struggled in the majors. Jones batted .173 last year, striking out in a third of his at-bats. With Evan Longoria brought over and Pablo Sandoval locked in, Jones didn’t get much time this spring. He picked up outfield play in Scottsdale, hoping to increase his versatility, but he has primarily been the third baseman in Sacramento. At the time of this latest promotion, Jones was batting .299 in Triple-A, with nine homers, 15 doubles and 48 RBI. 

He’ll head back to a River Cats squad that has provided plenty of help. Rodriguez started the season there. On Friday, he allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.72.

“I trust my stuff. I trust my stuff,” Rodriguez said. “I was just going after them.”