Belt is Not the Only Bambino – Brandon Crawford
I just had a late breakfast with my sister Amy and her boyfriend, Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole. Amy is here in Pittsburgh for the week to see him (she lives in Newport Beach) and timed it for when the Giants would be in town. Great to see them both.
Crazy series in Atlanta. Such close games. We drove in exactly zero runners in scoring position. We scored just nine runs. And we still swept.
You know it’s crazy when I hit two home runs in a game.
It was reported that I had never hit two in a Major League game. That is true. So is this: I had never hit two home runs in a high school game, a college game, or a minor league game.
The only time I hit two home runs before yesterday was in 2008 in the Dominican instructional league. I had been drafted in June of that year and signed in August. I hurt my ankle so I didn’t get to play much in the Arizona instructional league. So the Giants sent me to the Dominican instructional league in October to get more at-bats. I was the only American on the team. I could see the Latin guys eyeing me like, “Who’s this white guy?’’
Then I hit two home runs in my first two at-bats. Granted, it was kind of a small field and the pitching isn’t great at that level. But two home runs are two home runs. I don’t think those stats get recorded anywhere, but I have witnesses: Hector Sanchez and Ehire Adrianza were on that team, too
The second homer yesterday was kind of interesting because the pitcher, Jordan Walden, literally jumps off the mound. And he has a hitch when he jumps, which screws with your timing as a hitter. I remember facing him last year. When he was jumping at me, I found myself kind of jumping back at him. Which meant his fastball was even faster.
Yesterday on deck I watched his delivery to see when I wanted to stride. Hicks had a good at-bat in front of me, so I saw a lot of pitches. I told myself to have a slow body and just let my hands react. I felt a little jumpy the first couple pitches and had two checked swings. In retrospect, it was good that the second checked swing was called a strike. Otherwise I would have had a 3-0 count and had to take the next pitch. Instead, it was 2-1 and Walden grooved a 96-mph fastball. I let my hands react. And there you go.
I get more satisfaction about my defense, though. I think I’ve talked about this before. I play it pretty cool when I make a good play. I usually keep my game face on. But Saturday I couldn’t help smiling because Hicks just gave me a look. I was able to stop Evan Gattis’s grounder up the middle in the top of the ninth Friday night to help preserve our 2-1 lead. Then I stopped Andrelton Simmons’ grounder up the middle to end Saturday’s game. Hicks just looked at me and smiled and said, “You did it again!’’ You can see in the video that I cracked a smile.
The tough part of that play is the throw. Your head is turned away from first base when you start into your throw. But you know that first base hasn’t moved. You know where it is. And I’ve practiced plays like that. The key is to throw hard to beat the runner.
Do I ever surprise myself? Sometimes. But you prepare for plays like that. I feel I should make plays like that.
Thanks for reading. Looks like it might rain here. Can’t wait to get home to our park. And to my girls. Jalynne said Braylyn’s molars are coming in. Not very exciting news, I know. But you parents understand.