SAN FRANCISCO — Some script writers might be looking for work after Kyle Harrison’s outing for the San Francisco Giants on the mound on Monday evening. The local kid made a professional home debut so good that Hollywood would reject the premise once the plot was read aloud and the conclusion was delivered.
Harrison, from nearby Concord, Calif., struck out 11 batters while pitching into the seventh inning as the Giants took the first game of a crucial three-game stretch with the Cincinnati Reds, a 4-1 decision inside Oracle Park. Wilmer Flores hit a run-scoring double in the first inning to get San Francisco on the board while J.D. Davis went 2-for-4 at the plate for the Giants, who moved to within a 1/2 game of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the final Wild Card spot in the National League.
Furthermore, the Giants’ win knocked the Reds to 1 1/2 games back of that final Wild Card berth and moved to within one win in the final two games of the series of owning the tiebreaker against Cincinnati, should it come down to it at the end of the regular season.
Harrison, the Giants’ top prospect who was called up last week and made his debut in Philadelphia, was lights out pitching in front of a horde of family and friends scattered all around the park. The lefty struck out the first five batters of the game, had seven strikeouts at the end of three innings and only needed 78 pitches to get through six. In striking out 11 hitters, Harrison, 22, became the youngest pitcher to strike out 11 batters in a game for San Francisco since another Giants left hander, Madison Bumgarner, struck out 11 hitters on June 26, 2011 when he was a 21-year-old.
Every 95+ mile-per-hour fastball pumped in to his catcher’s glove elicited ever-growing cheers from the Oracle Park crowd, something Harrison did his best to shield while all of his supporters vociferously rooted him on.
“I didn’t see them at all,” Harrison said. “I was dialed in. I think my buddies were saying they were somewhere close, but I was locked in. I didn’t see them at all.”
Giants manager Gabe Kapler let Harrison start the seventh inning, and the latter recorded his final out on a ground out off the bat of Spencer Steer. The next two batters reached based, on a Christian Encarnacion-Strand double and TJ Friedl walk, prompting Kapler to come get Harrison before losing any chance of a victory. Kapler said afterward that he wanted to let Harrison soak up the crowd as he stood on the mound waiting for Kapler to reach the rubber and after Harrison made the walk back to the San Francisco dugout.
“It was about as an electric performance by a pitcher as we’ve seen since I’ve been here in San Francisco, right up there with any pitching performance,” Kapler said.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Monday evening’s contest, with all photos courtesy of Justin Cohen Photography. 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 seven pictures in total.