Giants’ Lewis Brinson matches rare Willie Mays feat with two-homer game

Brinson matches rare Mays feat with two-homer game vs. Dodgers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

LOS ANGELES — Lewis Brinson has been a Giant for less than a week and there’s a long way to go before any decisions are made for 2023, but he certainly has made one heck of a first impression.

With two homers on Monday night, Brinson helped the Giants snap an eight-game losing streak to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He also happened to do something a Giants center fielder hasn’t done since Willie Mays.

Brinson started in center field and went all nine, becoming the first Giants center fielder since Mays to hit two homers in a road game against the Dodgers, according to Sportradar. Mays did it at the LA Coliseum on May 12, 1958, and because he’s Mays, he hit two more homers the next day.

Mays and Brinson are two of only five Giants center fielders who have two-homer games against the Dodgers in any location since the club moved West in 1958. Bobby Bonds, Jeffrey Leonard and Mike Aldrete also did it, although all three had their two- homer games at Candlestick Park.

Brinson’s outburst came on a very hot night at Dodger Stadium, where the Giants had only twice previously had a five-homer night. In addition to Brinson, JD Davis, Thairo Estrada and David Villar all went deep.

The multi-homer game was Brinson’s fourth in the big leagues and he nearly had his first three-homer night. In his first at-bat, Brinson hit a rocket to left that was just a few feet from curling inside the foul pole. Manager Gabe Kapler said after the 7-4 win that he thought that first swing set a tone.

“I think that generally happens when you feel accurate with the barrel. You know where the sweet spot is,” he said. “You hit a home run foul and you connect with it and you don’t feel anything and that kind of gives you a sense of where that sweet spot is and you connect with it.

“It’s not like you’re putting a perfect swing on it every time but you know where it is and you’re a little more accurate with the barrel and I think that’s what was happening for Brinson tonight.”

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The Giants will give Brinson a long look in September as they try and see if he can be part of the outfield mix in 2023. The early returns are exactly what they expected. Brinson hasn’t had much overall success in five previous big league seasons with the Brewers and Marlins, but he has a .719 OPS against left-handed pitchers. In the minors this year, Brinson was 32-for-77 against lefties with seven homers and eight doubles.

The Giants will face Brett Anderson on Tuesday. In Wednesday’s series finale, they get Clayton Kershaw. Brinson likely will hit leadoff and play center field against both.

“He’s been good against lefties for stretches in his Major League career,” Kapler said. “He was having an excellent year in Triple-A with the Astros against left-handers, so to the degree that we can put him in those positions, I think that’s going to make him better. And his confidence is growing as well.”

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