SAN FRANCISCO – It’s not easy to hit home runs on these blustery nights at AT&T Park.
But Michael Morse hits them high and he hits them deep. And on Duane Kuiper home run bobblehead night, it was most certainly outta here.
Morse hit his third home run in two games – tripling Kuiper’s celebrated output over the beloved Giants broadcaster’s 12-year career – and Tim Hudson was the beneficiary in a 5-1 victory over the Cleveland Indians Friday night.
Hunter Pence had a pair of RBI hits, driving in a much more mobile Angel Pagan each time, and Morse’s solo shot in the fourth was a rarity – a right-handed drive to right-center that slipped over the deepest part of the ballpark fence.
It was Morse’s sixth home run in 69 at-bats – one more than all Giants left fielders hit in 599 at-bats last season.
Starting pitching report
Hudson’s walks streak -- the longest by a major leaguer since 1944 -- ended after 30-plus innings (and 115 batters faced) when he issued a free pass to Carlos Santana in the top of the first.
But Hudson (3-1) kept a more important streak going. He became the first Giant since Livan Hernandez in 2002 to pitch at least seven innings in each of his first five starts.
It was a bad night to be in the beer line. Hudson had innings of five, nine, 10 and 11 pitches.
He only paid for one mustake, when Michael Bourn tripled off the right field arcade and Nick Swisher snuck a ground ball single through the right side in the third inning. Hudson cruised other than that, continually throwing his sinker in and under the hands of left-handed hitters.
He walked Santana again in the sixth but froze Michael Brantley with a sinker and benefited from Brandon Belt’s glove at first base to escape the inning. Belt reacted well to snare Asdrubal Cabrera’s line drive and strand two runners.
Jeremy Affeldt’s toughest task in the eighth inning was getting the mound tamped down and smoothed out. He didn’t step on a rake and whack himself in the face or anything
Affeldt pitched a scoreless inning and Javier Lopez pitched around Pence’s error – and his own fumble on a potential double-play comebacker -- in the ninth.
At the plate
It’s hard to believe the Giants played six games on their last road trip and came up with just one RBI hit that wasn’t a home run.
Upon arriving home, they got one of those two batters into the game. Angel Pagan singled and Hunter Pence tripled to give the Giants an instant lead. Morse capped the two-run rally with a sacrifice fly to deep right field that might have smacked against the wall on a warmer night.
Pagan started another rally in the third when he singled, stole second base and scored easily on Pence’s single. It was Pence’s ninth hit in 14 at-bats, and not only is he beginning to heat up but he’s doing it with runners on base. Entering the game, Pence had come to bat with 50 runners on base and had scored just two of them.
Morse homered in the fourth and Giants struck for one more run in the seventh, when Pablo Sandoval hit a leadoff triple off the arcade and scored on Brandon Crawford’s single. Sandoval’s hit came when he jumped on the first pitch from lefty Josh Outman.
It’s stunning how seldom the Panda is swinging at the first pitch this season (22 percent, down from his career average of 43 percent), but he’s 5 for 9 when putting the first pitch into play. As mentioned prior to the game, Sandoval is an astounding 0 for 41 when any count reaches two strikes. So maybe the Panda needs to go back to being the Panda.
Pagan, who looked very lame while trying to play through a right knee injury Wednesday in Colorado, did not appear compromised in the slightest. In addition to his offensive exploits, he made a long run into the right-center gap to take an extra-base hit away from Swisher in the first inning.
The Giants announced 41,296 paid including Duane Kuiper’s biggest fan, the great Joe Posnanski
The Giants and Indians continue their three-game interleague series at AT&T Park on Saturday. Tim Lincecum (1-1, 6.43 ERA) takes the mound against right-hander Zach McAlister (2-0, 2.04). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT.