Rookie Sam Hilliard and his Colorado teammates look to pad their home run totals at the expense of San Francisco Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija when the Rockies go for a second consecutive win in the three-game series Wednesday night.
Colorado used five homers, including a three-run blast from Charlie Blackmon in the 16th inning, to pull out an 8-5 win in the series opener.
The loss dropped retiring Giants manager Bruce Bochy under .500 at 1,050-1,051 for his 13-year San Francisco run, with just five games remaining — all at home this week.
While a large contingent of reporters and dignitaries crowds around Bochy before the games this week, Hilliard hopes to use the bigger-than-usual audience to draw attention to a special cause.
He and his teammates have been wearing special t-shirts during pregame festivities and under their jerseys during recent games, hoping to increase awareness of the need for additional funding to find a cure for ALS, which has relegated his dad, Jim, to a wheelchair for two years.
Promoted for the first time on Aug. 27, Hilliard initially focused solely on baseball. But six homers in his first 23 games has given him a platform from which he had now elected to make himself heard.
“I just got to a point where I said to myself, ‘You’re not doing anything to help if you’re not talking about it,’ ” he admitted to reporters this week. “Getting the word out there, spreading the word about the foundation, and doing whatever I can to help … They say there’s no cure, but it’s just an underfunded disease, and they’re working to find a cure.”
Hilliard did not add to his homer Tuesday in a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup with Giants ace Madison Bumgarner. But Wednesday he’ll take his initial cracks at Samardzija (11-12, 3.64), who has allowed 28 homers in his 31 starts this season.
Overall, the veteran has pitched well against the Rockies this year, going 2-1. One of the wins featured seven shutout innings in a 1-0 Giants victory in April.
Samardzija has gone 6-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 20 games (16 starts) against the Rockies in his career.
The Rockies have scheduled right-hander Tim Melville (2-3, 5.40), who has never faced the Giants.
The first-year member of the Rockies has made six starts, four of which have been at home. He has yet to lose on the road, going 2-0 at Arizona and San Diego while allowing just three runs in 12 2/3 innings.
The 29-year-old will find himself pitching amid the Bochy hoopla, part of which has been reserved for speculation on who will be the Giants’ next manager.
The three-time-champion skipper weighed in on the subject before Tuesday’s game.
“He’s going to be one fortunate manager,” Bochy assured reporters. “He’ll be with a storied franchise that has such a great history. Beautiful ballpark. Beautiful city. Beautiful fans. There’s not a better place to manage in baseball, I’m convinced of that. He’s going to not just appreciate it, he’s going to love it. It’s just a great place. It changed my life when I came up here.”
–Field Level Media