Sammy Long, Fair Oaks native, draws his own fan section, which can be identified not just with each strikeout but with each strike he throws.
And yet, his friends and Sacramento State family seemed a bit toned down whenever Rhys Hoskins stepped to the plate. The Sacramento native and Long’s Sac State teammate in 2014, when Hoskins was drafted by the Phillies and Long was a freshman, had a personalized fan base of his own.
They are the only two Hornets in the majors, and so of course they found each other for Long’s first start and third outing.
“We kind of made eye contact before the first [at-bat] and gave a little nod to each other,” Long said Sunday after he went six strong, two-run innings for his first major league win. “And there was kind of a moment there where it was like, ‘All right, let’s do this, buddy.'”
Long was excellent and had a few memorable face-offs with his buddy in the Giants’ 11-2, Father’s Day win over Hoskins’ Phillies at Oracle Park. Long won the first, a flyout to right, before a controversial second at-bat.
Hoskins technically won with a five-pitch walk, though Statcast showed two of the pitches should have been strikes and all were around the zone.
“I thought I had him that second at-bat,” said Long, who allowed his only runs, a two-run shot to J.T. Realmuto, on the next batter. “…But that’s how it goes, and I got him the next time.”
In the sixth, he got him with maybe the filthiest curveball he threw, which is a statement that carries a few tons of weight. Brandon Crawford said the offering is “up there with some of the best curveballs in baseball. I mean, that thing drops out of the sky.” He threw 33 and got called strikes on nine of them. Five times Philadelphia swung and missed.
Long threw Hoskins a big curve, got a strike on a foul ball and then froze him.
“Definitely a big moment there that I needed to fool him on something,” said Long, who made Hoskins walk quickly back to the dugout without any argument. “…I threw him one in the 0-0 count. And then that second [curve] kind of looked like the same pitch and didn’t seem like he wanted to swing at it.”
Long enjoyed the battles and enjoyed the freedom from an opener, even if he said he would be happy to be used however the Giants would like. Gabe Kapler noticed that the curveballs ticked up in usage as the game went along, pitcher and catcher Curt Casali realizing how well it played.
Long finished with 84 pitches, and he should be just about fully stretched out for his next outing.
“You could tell that they might hit it,” Kapler said of the curveball, “but it wasn’t going to be hit for much damage.”
The Giants were held to three runs in four games in Washington, then exploded for 59 runs in this seven-game homestand. Scoring about eight and a half runs per game helped them win six of the contests.
“In the history of our park, it hasn’t necessarily been a place we come to get hot,” Crawford said.
Alex Dickerson and Darin Ruf played a second rehab game with Triple-A Sacramento and came out “feeling good,” Kapler said.
Wilmer Flores said he “did cry a bit” at the “Friends” reunion. The infielder who famously learned English while watching the show — and steps to the plate with its theme song playing — got emotional as all the friends came out.
Flores also had his first multi-homer game with the Giants and now carries a nine-game hitting streak. He has really pivoted since starting slowly.