With 'healthy urgency,' SF wins 9th straight

September 15th, 2021

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants popped champagne and basked in beer showers after becoming the first Major League team to clinch a playoff berth, but there was no hangover on Tuesday night. 

tossed 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball, and homered as the Giants beat the Padres, 6-1, for their ninth consecutive victory, their longest win streak since 2004. The Giants have scored at least six runs each game over that stretch, setting a San Francisco-era record.

Games remaining: 17
Standings update: 2 1/2 games ahead of the Dodgers for first place in the National League West
Magic number for division title: 14

At 95-50, the 2021 Giants continue to reach historic regular-season heights as they plow through September, but they’re not resting on their laurels, not when the rival Dodgers remain on their heels in the tight race for the National League West title. 

“You appreciate it, for sure,” Posey said. “But at the same time, all the guys have such a healthy urgency every day. You can’t sit back and reminisce at this point. There’s still a lot of work.”

Following the injuries to Alex Wood and Johnny Cueto, the Giants have been relying on their three remaining healthy starters to pitch deep into games to help ease the burden on their relievers, who have asked to step in and cover innings out of necessity this month. 

With another bullpen game looming on Wednesday, DeSclafani managed to deliver much-needed length for the Giants, holding San Diego to three hits while walking one and striking out three in his longest outing since July 4, when he came within an out of a complete game against the D-backs.

The only damage allowed by DeSclafani came in the third, when Jurickson Profar doubled and came around to score on an RBI groundout by Trent Grisham to briefly tie the game, 1-1. The 31-year-old right-hander consistently got ahead of hitters all night, finishing with a first-strike percentage of approximately 88%, according to manager Gabe Kapler.

“He was attacking the strike zone with all of his pitches,” Kapler said. “He was able to have enough movement on them to stay off barrels all night. He was able to go deep into the game for us. It puts us in a good position for tomorrow. Right now, our three healthy and productive starters are doing everything they can to keep our bullpen fresh and strong and giving us a chance to be in good shape for these bullpen games.”

Posey gifted his batterymate early run support by launching a solo shot off Padres right-hander Jake Arrieta in the first inning. Posey managed to turn on an inside sinker that was off the plate and send it 390 feet out to left-center field for his 18th home run of the year, giving the Giants a 1-0 lead. The pitch Posey hit out was 1.37 feet from the center of the plate, making it the furthest inside pitch any Giants right-handed hitter has homered off since the pitch-tracking era began in 2008.

“He’s obviously a special player, there’s no doubt about it,” DeSclafani said. “It’s been a privilege to watch him all year and be on the same team as him. That home run was really impressive. Everyone was kind of shocked when we saw that replay on the scoreboard. It literally looked like that ball was just going to hit him in the chest, and he just deposited it in the seats. It was super impressive.”

Posey was in the middle of another rally in the third, when he and LaMonte Wade Jr. strung together back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners with one out. Arrieta then uncorked an errant pickoff throw to first base, allowing Posey to score from third base and put the Giants back ahead, 2-1.

San Francisco continued to add on via Tommy La Stella’s RBI single off lefty reliever Tim Hill in the fourth and RBI doubles from Darin Ruf and Brandon Belt, who capped the offensive output by scoring on Padres third baseman Manny Machado’s two-base throwing error in the eighth.

“I think it speaks to the completeness of our roster,” Posey said. “It’s definitely a collective effort when you’re able to rattle off nine in a row.”