PITTSBURGH -- Marlon Byrd has played for so many organizations that when he was told that he became the first player to homer at PNC Park for five different teams he said he couldn’t even remember the five.
The Giants won’t soon forget his debut in orange and black.
Byrd homered in his first at-bat for the organization and was a triple short of the cycle through three plate appearances. He jolted an offense that has struggled on this trip, leading the Giants to a big 6-4 win over the Pirates.
“What a shot in the arm he was,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s great to have him. We’re excited to have him and I think he feels the same. That’s a pretty impressive debut. He gives us another bat in the heart of the order. It’s a great move by Bobby (Evans) to bring him in. We needed a shot in the arm and he did that for us.”
Byrd hit fifth for Bochy, and he’ll be in the heart of the order until Hunter Pence returns next month. Heck, with the way under-the-radar pickups have performed for Bochy in the past, Byrd still might find his way onto the field when the Giants are healthy. He certainly made his case Friday, hitting his 20th homer in the first inning. While 19 of those came with the Reds, Byrd is still technically the clubhouse leader in homers. He said he benefited a little from debuting against a National League Central team after months in Cincinnati.
“You’re facing a staff which is very good,” he said. “You see their record -- it makes it tough. But just knowing these guys made it a little easier. It’s more of a comfort level.”
In his white cleats (which he said are here to stay), Byrd looked right at home batting behind Buster Posey. He said before the game that he would be reenergized by the trade, and after the Giants crept within 1.5 games of the Dodgers (who got no-hit by the Astros) Byrd said again that he’s thrilled to be back in a race. He has reached the postseason just once in 13 seasons.
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“Yes, yes, every game counts,” he said. “Every game is big. You’re looking back behind you at the scoreboard, you see what other teams are doing.”
The Giants hope Byrd can help them keep pace with the Dodgers through the rest of this tough stretch of games. He’s a known commodity, and players were thrilled with what they saw on the first night.
“I think he had a heck of a night for us,” Madison Bumgarner said. “We played against him enough to know what kind of player he is, what kind of impact he can have. He had a heck of a game for us. He’s a professional hitter.”
From Bumgarner, that’s about the highest praise you can get.