Sports

Chapman fittingly leads way in BoMel’s first win as Giants manager

Chapman fittingly leads way in BoMel’s first win as Giants manager originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN DIEGO — For a second straight day, there were some pregame boos when Giants manager Bob Melvin’s name was announced at Petco Park on Friday, the result of some misplaced blame, perhaps, for last year’s disappointing results from the most expensive team in franchise history.

About two and a half hours later, Melvin walked onto the grass and took part in his first handshake line with the Giants, a team he played for more than three decades ago.

This was a night of firsts for San Francisco, which beat the San Diego Padres 8-3 behind contributions from its biggest offseason additions, but Melvin wasn’t all that eager to be in the spotlight. Asked if his team did anything to celebrate his first win as manager, he quickly shook his head.

“This is not for me, it’s us,” Melvin said, nodding toward the clubhouse. “The player of the game is in there — it’s [Matt] Chapman.”

Melvin is one of the biggest reasons Chapman was in the Giants’ lineup on Friday night, when he hit a two-run homer in the first and then blasted an insurance shot that landed on an elevated party deck in the top of the ninth. The two were together in Oakland, and Melvin didn’t bother to hide his desire to add Chapman when the Giants reported to camp in mid-February, when the Gold Glove third baseman remained on the market.

Chapman is known for that glove, but he also hit 36 homers for Melvin’s A’s in 2019 and has three other 20-homer seasons on his resume. The two swings Friday showed that 20 or 30 might be coming this season, too.

The Giants didn’t waste any time shaking off Thursday’s disappointing late loss, sending eight to the plate in the first and scoring three runs. Chapman’s two-run homer to right-center sent the momentum back to the visiting dugout, but he said that actually started in the ninth Thursday, when Michael Conforto hit a 420-foot blast.

“I think yesterday we took great at-bats, and we still were battling at the end of the game,” Chapman said. “Mikey hit that homer and we were able to have a little momentum going into today. Obviously it’s nice when we can jump on them in the first inning like that, and then obviously [Kyle Harrison] has a great outing and just commands the zone and keeps us in the game the whole game.

“I thought we took great at-bats all game. Something like that is big for us to just keep building off. Two days in a row, good at-bats — obviously that’s a really good team over there so you’re not going to win them all — but for us to string at-bats like that together and make it really tough on their pitchers is important.”

Chapman was the star of the night, but the overall effort showed what Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and Melvin had in mind as they pieced this all together.

Jung Hoo Lee had two singles atop the lineup and continued to show that there might not be any adjustment from the KBO to MLB. Jorge Soler reached base twice and scored twice, and LaMonte Wade Jr. had a couple of hits in a surprising start in right field. Eight of nine Giants had a hit, with Patrick Bailey reaching three times at the bottom of the order.

The full-squad effort allowed the Giants to bust out a new victory soundtrack, which blared through the walls as Melvin sat behind his desk and broke it all down. He might not have made a big deal of his first win in orange and black, but those who have been with him for years were thrilled to see him get it done. It certainly didn’t hurt that it came¬†against a team he knows well, and with one of his favorite players leading the way.

“It’s definitely fitting,” Chapman said. “I was excited for him to get his first win. I know how badly he wants to win every single day so I didn’t want to make him wait too long, but for me to be able to have a game like this, it means a lot. That’s a guy that I want to win for and do anything for, so it’s fun that it happened like this.”

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast