Giants keep 'chugging along,' sweep Mets

August 27th, 2021

NEW YORK -- The Giants’ final East Coast swing of the regular season is off to a good start.

Kris Bryant homered in his second consecutive game and Darin Ruf delivered a pinch-hit go-ahead RBI single in the eighth inning to help the Giants beat the Mets, 3-2, and complete a three-game sweep on Thursday night at Citi Field.

The Giants didn’t play their crispest baseball this week in Queens, but they still extended their winning streak to five games and improved their MLB-best record to 83-44, matching the 1993 club for the best record through 127 games in the San Francisco era (since 1958).

“It’s a sign of a good team,” said Giants left-hander Alex Wood, who allowed two runs in 5 1/3 innings. “We’ve got some good momentum rolling. We haven’t played our cleanest baseball lately, but we still have a good team. We come out, we get big hits. We’re still chugging along, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

Wood gave up a game-tying two-run home run to Pete Alonso on his final pitch of the night in the sixth inning, but the Giants picked him up by rallying against the Mets’ bullpen in the eighth.

Mike Yastrzemski led off the eighth with a single against the shift and advanced to second when Curt Casali was clipped on the right arm by a 91.3 mph sinker from Mets reliever Seth Lugo. That brought up Ruf, who bounced a single through the right side to knock in Yastrzemski and put the Giants back in front, 3-2.

Casali advanced from first to third on the play, but he began to experience some dizziness resulting from a foul ball he took off his catcher’s mask earlier in the game and ended up walking off the field with a team trainer. Chadwick Tromp, who was called up prior to Thursday’s game, came in to pinch-run for Casali, who started his second consecutive game behind the plate to give Buster Posey an extra day to recover from left knee discomfort.

The Giants had a chance to add on, as Austin Slater worked a walk against left-hander Aaron Loup to load the bases with no outs. Thairo Estrada got ahead, 3-0, but he went on to ground into a forceout. Loup then struck out Bryant and coaxed a popout from Brandon Crawford to end the inning.

The Giants’ inability to inflict further damage nearly came back to burn them, but left-hander José Álvarez bailed them out by retiring pinch-hitter Jeff McNeil to wriggle out of a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the eighth. Álvarez needed only three pitches to get McNeil to ground out to Crawford at short, punctuating his latest escape job with an emphatic fist pump as he walked off the mound.

“Obviously, it’s a tough situation, getting the bases loaded,” Álvarez said. “I was just worrying about making my pitches. This team has good hitters. I was just focusing on making my pitches and putting the ball in play.”

Álvarez, who joined the Giants on a one-year, $1.15 million deal in March, posted a 4.86 ERA over his first 17 outings, but he’s been lights out since June 1, logging a 0.79 ERA over his past 33 games. He hasn’t allowed a run over his past 20 appearances and has now stranded 24 of 30 inherited runners this season, lowering his ERA to 2.12.

“He’s been so consistent and so good,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “His season didn’t get started off on the foot that I think he wanted it to get started on. Since he’s kind of gotten his footing, he’s been excellent for us. I think we’re leaving this series with a sweep in large part because of the work he did the last couple of days.”

With closer Jake McGee unavailable, Tyler Rogers took the mound in the ninth and worked a 1-2-3 inning to close out the win for the Giants, who will now head to Atlanta for a three-game series against the National League East-leading Braves on Friday.

Kevin Gausman is expected to return from the COVID-19 injured list to start the series opener at Truist Park, but the club will be without first baseman Brandon Belt, who was placed on the bereavement list to attend memorial services for his late grandmother, and second baseman Donovan Solano, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday.

Belt is expected to rejoin the team on Sunday, but Solano will have to remain in New York and quarantine for approximately seven to 10 days, a significant blow for a team that’s aiming to hold off the Dodgers in the NL West.

Still, the Giants have proved adept at overcoming challenges and staying the course, a theme that has come to define their season thus far.

“It’s just really a winning ballclub,” Bryant said. “When things aren’t necessarily going your way, you find a way to win. We did that yesterday with a couple defensive miscues, and today, not coming through in some situations that we should. But our relievers picked us up and got us the win. That says a lot about us as a team.”