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Bochy's last series at Chase was memorable

Three takeaways from Giants' series against D-backs
@mi_guardado
August 18, 2019

PHOENIX -- Hours before managing his final game at Chase Field, Bruce Bochy took a moment to reminisce on the positive memories he's forged here over the years. "The last day is usually when it hits me," said Bochy, who received a four-night stay at an all-inclusive resort in Montana

PHOENIX -- Hours before managing his final game at Chase Field, Bruce Bochy took a moment to reminisce on the positive memories he's forged here over the years.

"The last day is usually when it hits me," said Bochy, who received a four-night stay at an all-inclusive resort in Montana from the D-backs. "I’ve had some great times here. I’ll miss coming here."

Box score

While the Giants couldn’t complete the sweep after falling to the D-backs, 6-1, in Sunday's series finale, Bochy will still be able to remember his final series at Chase Field as a successful one. The Giants took three of four games from Arizona to keep themselves in the National League Wild Card mix, and they will aim to keep that momentum going as they head to Chicago for another big series against the Cubs.

“It was a good series,” Bochy said. “You come in here and take three out of four, hey, you’ve got to feel good about that. They’re a good club. We came in and played well. Give their pitcher credit, he pitched well today.”

After outscoring the D-backs by 13 (28-15) over the first three games of this series, the Giants were stymied by right-hander Merrill Kelly, who carried a shutout into the sixth inning before Mike Yastrzemski tripled and scored on Scooter Gennett's RBI single. The Giants continued to threaten after loading the bases with two outs, but reliever Andrew Chafin induced a groundout from Brandon Crawford to end the inning.

Madison Bumgarner was charged with his first loss since June 20 after giving up four runs over six innings with two walks and nine strikeouts. Entering Sunday, the Giants had won each of the 30-year-old left-hander’s previous six starts and nine of his last 10. Bumgarner yielded three runs in the first inning, including a two-out, two-run triple by Adam Jones that evaded a diving Kevin Pillar in center field.

“We’ll leave here feeling good, because we did take three out of four from a team that we were chasing,” Bumgarner said. “If we keep doing that, I think we’ll be OK. But at the same time, everybody in here, especially me, wanted to come away with a sweep and a fourth win today. It just didn’t work.”

Here are three takeaways from this weekend's series against the D-backs.

The outfield has come a long way

At the beginning of the season, Pillar was playing for the Blue Jays, Alex Dickerson was with the Padres and Yastrzemski and Austin Slater were with Triple-A Sacramento. The quartet now comprises the Giants' current outfield contingent, which is finally providing the type of production that was missing for much of the first half.

Pillar enjoyed a huge series and is now batting .421 (24-for-57) with four home runs and 11 RBIs over 17 games in August. He produced a career-high five hits on Saturday and delivered a multihomer performance on Friday, giving him a team-high 17 home runs on the season.

Yastrzemski, who was acquired from the Orioles in exchange for Minor League pitcher Tyler Herb in March, has emerged as one of the Giants’ best pickups, batting .276 with an .874 OPS and 16 home runs over 72 games. He was inserted into the leadoff spot Friday and slugged three home runs for his first multihomer game. Slater spent the offseason reworking his swing and is now reaping the benefits, posting a .920 OPS over 38 games, 282 points higher than last year.

Dickerson did not start Sunday and is just 1-for-10 since returning from the injured list Wednesday, but he was a key catalyst for the Giants during their magical July run and remains one of their biggest power threats.

“We weren’t getting a lot of production from the outfield in the early go, and you look at what they’re doing out there now, that’s as good as I’ve ever put out there,” Bochy said. “They’re doing a great job defensively and doing damage with the bat. All that production that you need from the outfield, you’re getting now, and it’s made us a much better club.”

Rodriguez, Webb could help stabilize the rotation

The Giants arrived in Arizona with two holes at the back end of their rotation, but they successfully filled them by calling up Dereck Rodríguez and Logan Webb from Triple-A Sacramento. After an up-and-down year, a determined Rodriguez fired seven shutout innings in his best start of the season on Thursday. Webb followed with another solid outing on Saturday, allowing two runs over five innings to earn the win in his Major League debut.

“They looked really good,” Bumgarner said. “Especially Rodriguez.”

The two right-handers pitched well enough to stay in the rotation and could continue to boost the team moving forward. Rodriguez is scheduled to start Wednesday against the Cubs, and Webb is lined up to pitch next weekend against the A’s.

Belt appears to be turning the corner

The Giants moved Brandon Belt into the leadoff spot in late June, as they thought his on-base skills would profile well atop their lineup. But Belt hit only .218 with a .580 OPS over 33 games as the leadoff hitter, prompting Bochy to make a change.

On Thursday, Bochy dropped Belt to the bottom of the order to take some pressure off him as he attempted to work his way out of his recent rut. The change had the desired effect, as Belt finished 5-for-17 in this series, with a grand slam and a career-high-tying six RBIs on Saturday.

“I know it’s been a little tough sledding for him, but we need him,” Bochy said. “He’s got to remember who he is. You’re going to have these tough periods, these ups and downs.”

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.