Yastrzemski heats up vs. Rockies, but SF Giants can’t complete sweep

DENVER — Don’t look now, but Mike Yastrzemski might just be back to the form that earned him MVP votes two seasons ago.

With two more hits Wednesday, Yastrzemski capped a road trip that was as fruitful personally as it was for the Giants, especially after CJ Cron’s eighth-inning home run that prevented San Francisco from completing the sweep in Colorado.

Dropped down to the nine hole with the Rockies starting left-hander Kyle Freeland, Yastrzemski delivered an RBI single in the second inning that drove in the Giants’ first run, in the fourth, scored the Giants’ third run after doubling to right field.

However, that was all San Francisco would muster the rest of the way, falling 5-3 to the Rockies for their first loss against Colorado in 13 games, despite getting seven strong innings from Logan Webb.

The two-bagger was Yastrzemski’s fourth extra-base hit of the three-game series and his fifth of the road trip, raising his OPS to a season-high .828. After his 2-for-4 day Wednesday, Yastrzemski comes home to San Francisco from a road trip during which he hit 7-for-17, scored six runs, drove in six runs, doubled four times and homered once, reaching base another four times via bases on balls.

That .828 OPS is close to the .852 mark he posted during his breakout rookie season when he slugged 21 home runs.

Surely, Yastrzemski is disappointed to be leaving Coors Field, where his 1.230 career OPS entering Wednesday is higher than any other ballpark in which he’s played more than three games. But the Giants should be hopeful that Yastrzemski can transfer his success his to Oracle Park and beyond after his recent string of at-bats.

With 12 walks and only 18 strikeouts, Yastrzemski’s K:BB ratio this season is the best of his career. And while he hasn’t totally eliminated his struggles against left-handed pitching — there is still a 200-point discrepancy in his OPS depending on matchup advantage — his two hits Wednesday both came off of the southpaw Freeland, and his home run last home stand came off hard-throwing Cardinals left-hander Genesis Cabrera.

It was Yastrzmski’s third time this season batting ninth, an increasingly common move from manager Gabe Kapler with a left-hander on the mound. It’s not easy for left-handed hitters to get opportunities against lefties in Kapler’s platoon-oriented system, and Yastrzemski got the nod Wednesday over fellow lefty-hitting outfielders LaMonte Wade Jr. and Joc Pederson.

Ostensibly, the move down in the order was to increase the odds of Yastrzemski gaining the platoon advantage against a right-handed reliever once Freeland left the game, but in reality Yastrzemski acted almost as a second leadoff hitter, setting the table for the top of the lineup.

No Giants player this season has given Kapler more flexibility in where to bat him in the order.

In 37 games, Yastrzemski has appeared in every spot in the order but Nos. 7 and 8. The next closest Giant to Yastrzemski’s seven different lineup positions is Wilmer Flores, with five.

“He’s the kind of guy where you say, hey, you’re hitting leadoff today, you’re hitting two tomorrow, you’re hitting five the next day, you’re hitting nine the next day, and he’s not going to get bent out of shape about it,” Kapler said. “Just a total pro. When you have a guy like Yaz, you can work a lot of different strategy and know you’re going to get the support that you need and the unselfish behavior that you’ve got to have in a major-league clubhouse.”

WEBB DOWNS COORS: The effects of Coors Field were apparent over the first two games of this series as the Giants and Rockies combined for 30 runs and 46 hits. In the series finale Wednesday, Logan Webb appeared immune as he limited Colorado to two runs on three hits over seven innings.

But that wasn’t enough for the Giants to escape with their 13th straight win over the Rockies, which would have been the franchise’s longest winning streak against a single opponent in more than 100 years.

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