3 takeaways from San Francisco's hot streak

Giants bash 3 HRs in support of Cueto in opener vs. Halos

June 1st, 2021

The Giants closed the book on May on a high note, defeating the Angels, 6-1, on Monday afternoon at Oracle Park to pick up their sixth win in their last seven games to move a half-game ahead of the Padres for first place in the National League West.

, . and homered off Angels right-hander Dylan Bundy to back a strong outing from right-hander , who fired seven innings of one-run ball in his best start since returning from the injured list on May 9.

The Giants, who rank second in the Majors with 78 home runs this year, have now hit at least two homers in six consecutive games, their longest such streak since July 24-29, 2001.

The well-rounded victory capped an 18-10 May for the Giants (34-20), who continue to exceed expectations and prove they have the necessary pieces to sustain their success deep into the regular season.

“I feel good about the way we played in May,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “I thought this was a really important win for us because of the emotion and energy we spent to try to win the Dodgers series. We knew that this is going to be a tough competitor as well. We knew that Bundy would come out and throw a lot of strikes and force us to put the ball in play, which he did. I feel like it's important because there can be an emotional letdown after a series like the Dodgers [series]. We know that the Angels are a great team, and we weren’t going to let that happen.”

Here are three takeaways from the Giants’ fourth consecutive win:

1) Slugging third basemen
Longoria gave the Giants a 2-1 lead with a two-run blast off Bundy in the fourth, but the 35-year-old veteran later exited after five innings due to right side soreness. Still, the Giants experienced little drop-off in power at the hot corner, as Dubón came in to replace Longoria and promptly delivered a solo shot off Bundy in the sixth for his second home run in as many days.

Longoria said he felt discomfort in his side while rounding second base after his home run and decided to depart to prevent the injury from worsening. He is due to undergo an MRI exam and will likely sit out Tuesday’s series finale. Coupled with Wednesday’s off-day, Longoria should receive at least two days of rest, which he hopes will be enough to calm down the side issue.

“It doesn’t feel horrible right now,” Longoria said. “Hopefully, it’s a day-to-day thing, and there’s nothing serious going on, and we can figure out how to treat it and move forward from there.”

Losing Longoria for any stretch would be a blow for the Giants, as he ranks third on the team with nine home runs and is batting .405 (15-for-37) with five homers and 15 RBIs over his last 10 games. Still, the Giants have been finding ways to pick each other up when injuries crop up, a theme that continued on Monday.

“It seems like we’ve really battled injuries the whole year, and it seems like we’ve really embraced that,” Longoria said. “It’s been a next-man-up mentality. Even in today’s game, I come out of the game and Dubi goes in and hits a home run. It seems like whoever is getting the call on that day to go out and perform is doing it. It’s fun to watch.”

2) Día de Cueto
Cueto looked like his vintage self at the outset of the 2021 campaign, boasting a sparkling 1.80 ERA over his first three starts before missing nearly a month with a lat strain. He struggled to regain his footing after returning from the IL, logging a 6.23 ERA over his next four starts, but he got back on track with his gem on Monday.

Cueto had to work around traffic on the bases in the first three innings against the Angels, but he found his rhythm as got deeper into his outing, retiring 12 of the final 13 batters he faced. After completing his 97-pitch effort, Cueto tipped his cap to the crowd as he walked off to a standing ovation from the 13,144 fans in attendance.

“I was excited when I saw the fans get behind me,” Cueto said in Spanish. “I was happy. That’s what I want.”

The starting rotation has been the backbone of the Giants this year, so if Cueto can build off this performance, their pitching staff could become even stingier.

“Johnny’s going to be a big part of our success this year,” Longoria said. “Games like today show you the kind of ability that he has on the mound. We definitely need that. We’ve got one of the best starting rotations in the big leagues, and he definitely is a huge part of that.”

3) Wade impressing
The Giants’ first-base depth has been eroded by the injuries to Brandon Belt, Tommy La Stella and Darin Ruf, but Wade has done a nice job filling in thus far.

With a righty on the mound, the left-handed-hitting Wade drew his third start of the year at first and extended San Francisco’s lead to 3-1 by slamming a first-pitch sinker from Bundy out to right field in the fifth. It was Wade’s third big league home run, and his first with the Giants, who acquired the 27-year-old from the Twins in exchange for right-hander Shaun Anderson in February.

Wade is primarily an outfielder, but he played first base in college and has looked comfortable there despite limited experience at the Major League level. He’s also impressed at the plate, going 7-for-20 (.350) with a double, a homer and three walks in nine games.

“What this really tells us is that his bat speed is good. He’s able to get the ball in the air to the pull side, and he continues to be a quality defender for us at first base,” Kapler said.