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Mar 31, 2024 9:24 am

Giants’ Michael Conforto bids to continue hot start vs. Padres

Michael Conforto

On Thursday, Michael Conforto became the 18th Opening Day left fielder in 18 years for the San Francisco Giants.

With his performance in the first three games of the team’s first series at the San Diego Padres, Conforto seems determined to insert himself into the Giants’ record book in another, more positive light.

After slugging a ninth-inning homer on Opening Day in a 6-4 loss, Conforto belted a grand slam in the eighth inning of Saturday’s 9-6 win, assuring San Francisco of no worse than a split. The Giants will try for a series win on Sunday in San Diego.

And Conforto will try to keep clearing fences in an attempt to do something that hasn’t happened in the team’s recent history.

“There’s one other thing that hasn’t happened since Barry (Bonds). That’s a 30-homer season,” Conforto said.

While that might seem far-fetched given Conforto has spent as much time battling injuries as he’s spent digging into the batter’s box since a 33-homer 2019 season with the New York Mets, he is off to a 6-of-13 start with five RBIs.

And his work at the plate is just one of the many positives for the Giants. They’ve scored 21 runs in the first three games and are perhaps a seventh-inning bullpen meltdown on Thursday away from a potential sweep of a National League West rival in its ballpark.

San Francisco will turn to Daulton Jefferies to make his first start with the club in the series finale. Jefferies made eight starts last year for Oakland, going 1-7 with a 5.72 ERA over 39 1/3 innings. This will be his first career appearance against San Diego.

Meanwhile, the Padres will vie for a series split behind one of the pitchers they acquired from the New York Yankees in the major trade involving All-Star outfielder Juan Soto. Right-hander Michael King will take the mound for his first start with his new club.

King has been effective in a swing role over the past three seasons with the Yankees, pitching to a 2.75 ERA over 49 games and 104 2/3 innings last year. He struck out 127 hitters and recorded six saves.

And his first performance with San Diego can be regarded as a success. Relieving on March 21 in the second game of its series with the Los Angeles Dodgers in Seoul, South Korea, King soaked up 3 1/3 innings and fanned five in a 15-11 win, earning the decision.

King took a loss in relief in his only career outing against the Giants, giving up two runs on four hits over 1 2/3 innings. The Padres will hope he can give them some length after getting just 10 1/3 innings from their starters in the past two games.

San Diego has shown flashes of a strong offense, averaging nearly seven runs per game. Fernando Tatis enjoyed a two-homer game Friday night.

“It’s just hard work paying off,” he said.

–Field Level Media

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