Mike Yastrzemski is well aware that he is winding down on an underachieving season.
But the San Francisco outfielder is intent on finishing the season strong and looks to make an impact when the visiting Giants play the Arizona Diamondbacks in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night at Phoenix.
Yastrzemski has homered in two of his past three appearances, including hitting a solo shot in Thursday’s 3-0 road win over the Colorado Rockies. He also doubled and scored San Francisco’s first run as the club completed a four-game sweep.
But he went 33 appearances without going deep before parking one on Monday against the Rockies. And he is batting a career-worst .210 to go with 14 homers and 49 RBIs in 136 games.
Yastrzemski hit a career-best 25 homers last season when the Giants won a franchise-best 107 games. This season, San Francisco (73-77) isn’t even part of the National League wild-card race.
“It’s just one of those things where I want to feel a little bit of momentum going into the offseason and have something to feel good about that happened this year,” Yastrzemski said after Thursday’s victory. “We’re slowly trying to build on that and keep the good feels and the play going.”
The Giants are expected to pursue offensive changes in the offseason but the 32-year-old Yastrzemski isn’t someone the club is looking to deal.
“He’s got a big timing mechanism,” San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler said. “When he’s on time, he gets a really good, aggressive swing off. I think he’s been a little bit more on time. But I really think most of the year he’s been searching for that ideal timing.
“He’s gone through stretches where he’s really driven the baseball, but also some where he’s flipped up underneath it to the left side of the field, or he’s been surprised by third strikes.”
Yastrzemski hasn’t found success against Arizona this season, going 3-for-33 (.091) with 12 strikeouts.
The Diamondbacks (70-81) have dropped six of their past eight games, including a painful 3-2 decision to the host Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday night.
Standout right-hander Zac Gallen struck out a career-high 13 while allowing one run in eight innings. But the shaky Arizona bullpen allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth, with Cody Bellinger’s leadoff double changing the momentum.
“We just couldn’t make some pitches in a key situation to Bellinger,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “It’s tough to navigate through that, especially the guys who were coming up behind him.”
Christian Walker hit a homer in the top of the ninth to give Arizona the lead. Walker has gone deep six times this month and ranks fourth in the NL with 36.
Left-hander Tommy Henry (3-4, 5.50 ERA) will take the mound for the Diamondbacks in the opener.
Henry, 25, will be making his eighth big league start and his first since Sept. 7 when he lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He served up three homers while allowing five runs and seven hits over 4 1/3 innings and was optioned to Triple-A Reno the following day.
The Giants will counter with lefty Carlos Rodon (13-8, 2.84). Rodon has matched his career best for victories and has struck out a career-high 220.
Rodon, 29, defeated the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 14 when he gave up one unearned run and two hits over five innings. He struck out eight and walked one.
Rodon has fanned 10 or more in four of his past six starts. One of the outings came against the Diamondbacks on Aug. 17 when he struck out 11 and gave up one run and two hits in six innings in a no-decision.
Despite being 0-2 with a 5.29 ERA in three starts against Arizona this season, Rodon has struck out 28 in 17 innings.
–Field Level Media