Yasiel Puig continued his air assault on the Padres, hitting a pair of two-run home runs against Jered Weaver in the Dodgers’ 10-2 win over San Diego to take the season-opening four-game series at Dodger Stadium.
Puig worked throughout spring training with hitting coach Turner Ward on his swing mechanics, trying to improve his plate coverage. Another thing the duo worked on was trying to get the ball in the air, given Puig’s 49.4% ground ball rate per FanGraphs.
"The game today, guys are stronger with velocity. If you put the ball on the ground, we have a lot of data to gather up ground balls," manager Dave Roberts said Wednesday night. "With Yasiel, he’s so strong that he can put the ball out of the ballpark anywhere. If he can elevate the baseball, he’s got a chance."
Puig got a chance on Wednesday night with a home run against Trevor Cahill, then on Thursday Puig hit a two-run home run against Weaver in the second inning, a no-doubter to the back of the Dodgers bullpen.
He followed that up with another two-run shot to left field in the fourth.
Maybe Puig’s pockets won’t be empty any time soon, after all.
It was the second career multi-homer game for Puig, and his first since June 4, 2013, his second day in the majors, also against the Padres. Puig’s 11 career home runs against San Diego are his most against any team.
That offense was in support of Brandon McCarthy, who was remarkably efficient in his first start of the season. After getting a pair of 75-pitch, five-inning starts on Tuesday and Wednesday, McCarthy pitched scoreless ball into the sixth inning and was able to provide some length on Thursday.
McCarthy allowed a two-run home run to Wil Myers in the sixth inning to cut the Dodgers’ 4-0 lead in half, but that was all the damage in his six innings of work. McCarthy struck out four and walked one, needing just 78 pitches.
The Dodgers pinch hit for McCarthy in the sixth, and Kike Hernandez delivered some insurance with an RBI double to score Austin Barnes, a scoring rally that started with a walk by Puig.
Puig later walked again — his sixth consecutive plate appearance reaching base — and stole second base. He is the first Dodger with two home runs and a steal in the same game since Hanley Ramirez on May 31, 2014.
After the short homestand of the season (amazingly, the Dodgers have two shorter homestands later this year), the Dodgers hit the road for six games, starting with a three-game weekend set at Coors Field against the Rockies. Friday afternoon is the second of three home openers the Dodgers will play this season, with Hyun-jin Ryu on the mound for Los Angeles and fellow southpaw Kyle Freeland making his major league debut for the home team.
Home runs: Yasiel Puig 2 (3); Wil Myers (1)
WP - Brandon McCarthy (1-0): 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts
LP - Jered Weaver (0-1): 5 IP, 5 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts