Giants get back to .500 thanks to Cobb and Conforto
MINNEAPOLIS -- Giants manager Gabe Kapler approached reporters for his postgame press conference on Tuesday when a loud cheer came from inside the team’s clubhouse behind closed doors.
San Francisco had plenty of reasons to get excited after another win at Target Field, the Giants’ seventh win in their last eight games and 10th comeback win of the season.
In a matchup of the two pitchers with the top ERAs in MLB, Alex Cobb (4-1) had another strong outing to keep the Giants in the game. The offense made Twins starter Sonny Gray work through his five innings, and Michael Conforto capped the rally with another homer in the 4-3 win.
“It’s the kind of baseball that we want to play,” Conforto said. “I think we’ve been doing a really good job of doing all the little things, executing the plans that we have, at least on the offensive side from what I’ve seen in the hitters' meetings.”
The victory pushed San Francisco’s record back to .500 at 24-24, the first time the Giants have been at .500 since starting the season 3-3.
“Obviously, it’s been a good run to get here and speaks to the even nature of this team,” Kapler said. “We’re not going to get too high or too low. Playing good baseball, also not going to get too high about that because there’s going to be some ups and downs going forward.”
Conforto’s emergence has been just what the lineup needed.
The 2023 free-agent signee homered for the second straight game in Minnesota, and he’s hitting .341 with five homers and 12 RBIs in his last 11 games.
“It’s easier to envision coming back from a 3-0 hole when Michael Conforto’s swinging the bat the way he is and can go deep at any time, and can go deep to any part of a really big ballpark,” Kapler said. “So, that’s reassuring.”
Conforto got off to a slow start in his initial season in San Francisco, perhaps not a surprise after the outfielder missed all of last season, in part, due to shoulder surgery.
The Giants’ early struggles also came with several players dealing with injuries. Outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Alex Wood missed 21 games. Outfielder Mike Yastrzemski missed 15, while shortstop Brandon Crawford was out 13 games.
Even still, the injury bug persists. Catcher Joey Bart is on the injured list for the second time and has missed 11 games. Joc Pederson has missed the past nine games while on the injured list.
Meanwhile, San Francisco has used rookies like Blake Sabol, Brett Wisely, Casey Schmitt and Patrick Bailey to fill the gaps and buoy its play.
“We’re just playing the type of ball that we expected to play when we were leaving camp,” Cobb said. “I feel like this is more the brand of baseball that we’re expecting to play and we’re excited about what we have coming up.”
Cobb started the day second in MLB in ERA at 1.94, trailing only Gray’s 1.64. Cobb went seven innings on Tuesday, giving up three runs on six hits with eight strikeouts.
“He really dug deep for us,” Kapler said of Cobb. “I don’t think his split was at its best. I think he missed with two of those and that’s how they scored their runs.”
With Cobb keeping San Francisco in the game, the Giants managed to get Gray out of the game in the sixth after loading the bases with two walks and a double by Conforto. Two runs came in via walks and Conforto countered with the two-run homer an inning later off the bullpen.
“We got ourselves into a good inning with some good at-bats and wore him down a little bit, got a couple runs and then we got into the bullpen, got a couple more off of them,” Conforto said. “It’s huge for the team. We’re just going to take it one game at a time, keep trying to do the same things and come away with a sweep tomorrow.”