ATLANTA -- The Giants were without three Opening Day starters and their big Trade Deadline splash on Saturday, but like they’ve done all season, they found a way to win.
Utilizing the flexibility of its roster, San Francisco was able to scrape its way to a 5-0 victory over the Braves at Truist Park. And in just a few days, the Giants will get those stars back.
LaMonte Wade Jr., Tommy La Stella and Darin Ruf, three players who have worked their way into the starting lineup at multiple positions, shined at the plate. La Stella continued his hot streak with a first-inning homer -- giving him three straight games with an extra-base hit -- while Wade’s third-inning single put pitcher Logan Webb into position to score on a La Stella sacrifice fly. Ruf walked in the fourth and added an insurance run in the eighth on an RBI single.
“You feel grateful that you can plug players into multiple positions and not miss too much of a beat,” manager Gabe Kapler said.
“It allows us to be especially aggressive with our bench. It's not the perfect situation; it's not like we're, you know, throwing out like star defenders at every position, but we do have a flexible, unselfish group who's willing to play anywhere, and we're trying our best to prepare them to be ready for those moments.”
Having Wade and Ruf able to play outfield corners and first base, with La Stella and Wilmer Flores capable at second, third and first, allows Kapler to put his best bats on the field in various permutations.
So even an equal mix of backups and starters was enough to put up five runs -- the Giants are 57-13 on the season when scoring five or more runs -- which was more than enough thanks to seven brilliant scoreless innings from Webb. And if and when the team is healthy, big bats like Ruf (.275/.394/.545) and Wade (.245/.315/.510) may become luxuries off the bench.
“It just speaks to the depth that we have,” La Stella said. “I mean all year guys have been, you know, plug and play, and they've played well. Anybody who's gone down, we've found a way to pick up the production, so I don't anticipate it going any other way, really.”
The Giants have had to patch together lineups over the last few games but could be back to full strength for the stretch run soon. Brandon Belt is due back from the bereavement list on Sunday, while Kris Bryant could also return from right side tightness. Meanwhile, Evan Longoria is expected to be activated from the 10-day IL on Tuesday, and Donovan Solano is eligible to return from a positive COVID test on Sept. 5.
“Real, true full strength is a little bit fleeting, right?” Kapler said. “And we've seen that. We've gotten closer to full strength and then you know somebody has needed a couple of days and, look, things are going to happen.
“What we can hope for is that we minimize the serious injuries and we minimize how often we're really short, and that's what we have to work really hard to do. It's not easy and we have challenges ahead of us, so we'll do our best.”