Giants rookie Kyle Harrison strikes out 11 in electric home debut

Giants rookie Kyle Harrison strikes out 11 in electric home debut

SAN FRANCISCO — Kyle Harrison brought Giants fans to their feet Monday night as he looked to finish the top of the fifth inning. Many fans cheered and clapped, while others pulled out their phones to document what happened next.

Harrison launched a 95 mph four-seam fastball down the middle; Cincinnati Reds rookie TJ Hopkins swung but to no avail.

The crowd erupted with joy as the two runners left on base dropped their heads. Harrison celebrated his 10th strikeout of the night with an emphatic fist pump and roar as he headed to the Giants dugout.

“It was really, really awesome to get out of that and get the guys back in the dugout and keep us ahead,” Harrison said. “That was the biggest motivation on that scream, I was hyped up for the team.”

The inning might’ve been over, but Harrison’s night was not. He stayed in for a total of 6 1/3 scoreless innings, surrendering only three hits and two walks while striking out an eye-popping 11 batters in the Giants’ 4-1 series-opening win over the Reds.

How about that for a major-league home debut for the Mountain View native?

Harrison, the most anticipated Giants pitching prospect in at least the decade, made his major-league debut last week in front of a hostile crowd in Philadelphia. But Monday night at Oracle Park was special for the De La Salle High School graduate, who grew up going to Giants games with his family and had his parents watch his entire outing from the seats behind home plate.

“It was about as an electric performance by a pitcher as we’ve seen since I’ve been here in San Francisco,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “To do it in front of his family and to see the tears upon the big screen, it’s pretty rewarding for all of us and obviously nobody’s happier than Kyle.”

Harrison opened the game by striking out the side, using only 15 pitches to get out of the first inning. He aggressively attacked the strike zone over and over again for the next five innings.

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With Harrison still gradually building up his workload, Kapler had envisioned the rookie lefty throwing about 85 pitches. But with how solid he had been, Kapler decided to put him out there to start the seventh.

“Felt like this was a historic performance at that point and one that warranted an additional up,” Kapler explained.

After giving up a double to another East Bay native in College Park alum Christian Encarnacion-Strand and walking TJ Friedl in the top of the six, Kapler decided Harrison’s night was over. Kapler met the 22-year-old on the mound and advised him to soak in the moment and cherish the ovation.

Harrison held back tears as he walked off the field for the last time that night.

“It was a long time coming for sure,” said Harrison, who also said he “definitely” succeeded his expectations. “It was awesome.”

Harrison, who earned his first major-league win, is the first Giants pitcher in 111 years to record 10-or-more strikeouts in his second career start. He’s also the first major-league pitcher to accomplish the feat since Shoehei Ohtani struckout 12 in his second major-league game back in 2018.

“That’s obviously cool,” Harrison said, “but got another game and gonna play the same way and yeah, onto the next one.”

Harrison threw a total of 91 pitches (59 strikes), an uptick from last Tuesday when he tossed 65 pitches in 3 1/3 innings.

It helped having a familiar face in Patrick Bailey behind the plate. Bailey and Harrison had come up in the minors together and were linked up for Harrison’s major-league debut last week. On Monday, the two looked like a seasoned tandem.

The Giants bats got hot early, with Wilmer Flores’ hitting a double to send Austin Slater home in the first inning. In the bottom of the third, Bailey swatted a double that allowed Thairo Estrada to score, and Paul DeJong followed it up with a sacrifice fly to right field that allowed J.D. Davis went home and made it a 3-0 game.

The Giants would score once more — with Wade Meckler’s first double of the season sending Joc Pederson through — to seal the win.

The Giants-Reds series will continue Tuesday in San Francisco; first pitch is scheduled for 6:45 p.m.