SAN FRANCISCO — With the historic roll that Giants starting pitcher Carlos Rodón is currently on to begin the season, just one swing of the bat from his offense was sure to be more than enough that the lefty hurler needed to post another victory.
Wilmer Flores provided two such mighty swings, just for good measure.
Flores followed up his RBI double in the second inning with a three-run homer in the third, and Rodón continued his stellar form on the mound by striking out nine in six innings in cementing the Giants’ 8-2 victory over the Athletics at Oracle Park on Tuesday evening.
San Francisco was playing its first home game after a successful 11-game road trip in which it went 8-3, with Flores drawing a key walk before a game-winning ninth-inning home run from Luis Gonzalez in the final game of the road swing yesterday in Milwaukee. Flores carried over that good eye to Tuesday, lifting a curveball from Athletics starter Daulton Jefferies off the top of the left field wall to score Brandon Crawford to open the scoring.
In his next at-bat one inning later, Flores roped a sinker down the left field line for his second home run of the season, a three-run clout that gave the Giants a 5-1 lead.
“I just see what Wilmer is doing as what he did for us for the last two calendar years,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “Very consistent at the plate, good decision-maker, good barrel accuracy. Excellent in squaring up the baseball no matter where it is in the zone and lays off pitches he can’t drive. I think he didn’t get off to a perfect start, but he was always having pretty consistent quality at-bats. Now those are resulting in some damage.”
Rodón took the baton from Flores and proceeded to post his fourth consecutive start of striking out at least eight (nine against the A’s) while allowing no more than three hits and no more than one run. In fact, the only pitcher in the modern era to have four consecutive starts with those numbers at any point in a season was the Mets’ Jacob deGrom, during his historic start to his injury-interrupted campaign last season.
Rodón’s only slip-up came in the third inning, allowing a two-out RBI single to Sheldon Neuse soon after walking No. 9 hitter Nick Allen. The nine strikeouts tonight allowed Rodón to break Tim Lincecum’s franchise record with 38 strikeouts in a pitcher’s first four appearances of a season. In his last start against the Mets, Rodón relied almost exclusively on his fastball to get out of a couple of jams. Tonight, his fastball and slider continued to keep the A’s lineup off-balance.
“I think thre’s room to improve with more secondary [pitches],” Rodon said. “More strikes with the slider, more strikes with the curveball. Luckily, we’ve been riding on that fastball and that fastball’s gotten me through these first four starts.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Bay Area-based photographer Chris Tuite. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 30 pictures in total.