Aan Francisco - Aubrey Huff saw teammate Mark DeRosa spread out on the ground signaling him to slide into home, so he obliged. At last, Huff had the inside-the-park home run he's long coveted.
“I was already gassed, so I really didn’t need that,” Huff said.
“He could have come in standing up,” teammate Eli Whiteside said with a grin.
Huff made his first homer with the Giants an exciting one and Jonathan Sanchez struck out 11, leading San Francisco past the Pittsburgh Pirates, 6-0, on Wednesday.
Whiteside hit a three-run shot later in the second inning and Aaron Rowand hit a two-run shot a few innings after them.
Huff’s homer highlighted the day. He hardly considers himself a speedster – he tried to steal six times last year and was caught all six times.
“When I hit it, I thought it was gone anyway. In most parks it is,” Huff said. “I saw it bounce off the wall and as soon as I rounded first I saw it took an amazing hop right. I’m like: ‘Oh boy, here we go. If I am going to hit one out I’m going to try to get a cheapie.’ ”
Sanchez (1-0) matched his career best with 11 strikeouts in eight scoreless innings. The Giants improved to 7-2, their best start since beginning 8-1 in 2003 – their last playoff season.
Huff led off the second with a drive that hit the arch on the facade in right-center, known in the pitcher-friendly park as Triples Alley. The ball ricocheted into right field and gave Huff ample time to round the bases.
Huff slid into home, gratuitously, for his first homer of the year as San Francisco’s new cleanup hitter. He received plenty of warnings about how hard it is to clear the fences in AT&T Park.
Huff’s sixth-inning double clanked off the wall just right of the first spot and caromed back toward center. He also hit a deep fly to center in the third that looked as if it might go out but was caught.
“I’ve never had a three-home-run game. I’m going to go ahead and chalk that up as a three-home-run game in my mind,” Huff said. “I don’t know if I can hit a ball any better. I hit one to center for an out and the one to right-center was just ridiculous. If that don’t go out, I don’t know what you can do. Everybody in spring told me, ‘You’ll see, you’ll see.’ I’m like, ‘Come on, if you get it it’s going to go.’ ‘Nah. …’
“I get it now. I get it,” Huff said.