SF getting healthy, back to winning ways with sweep

May 12th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants capped off a 5-2 homestand Wednesday, and there was no shortage of encouraging signs as they packed their bags for a six-game road trip.

Alex Cobb was excellent over 5 1/3 innings on the mound, Brandon Crawford hit a two-run homer and the Giants welcomed third baseman Evan Longoria back to the lineup with a 7-1 victory that completed a three-game sweep of the Rockies.

San Francisco has won five in a row, outscoring teams 41-18 over that stretch. Most encouraging for manager Gabe Kapler, his team is getting healthier.

With the recent return of Longoria, first baseman Brandon Belt and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr., the Giants boast the kind of roster depth that fueled a franchise-best 107-win season in 2021.

“One of the strengths of our club last year, one of the best teams you could possibly imagine, was our bench was strong and deep, and very dependable,” Kapler said. “As much as it helps to have a guy like Evan Longoria back in the starting lineup, it’s equally important that our bench is getting stronger.”

Longoria, who missed the first 30 games while recovering from right index finger surgery, went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his season debut. But his return brings veteran stability. Within the next week, the Giants figure to also welcome back second baseman Tommy La Stella, who’s been out to this point with a left Achilles injury.

Others have filled in quite capably in their absence, and Wednesday’s win provided evidence of that.

Thairo Estrada, who’s held down second base all season with La Stella out, went 2-for-5 with two runs scored.

Luis González entered the day hitting .327 with 11 RBIs in 17 games since being called up from Triple-A Sacramento. He didn’t have a hit Wednesday, but he stole a base, scored a run and made a terrific sliding catch in left field.

“It doesn’t surprise me, and I don’t think it surprises anybody in that room or anybody in the organization, that when we’re together and near healthy -- with some new contributions from a guy like Luis González, for example -- we’re a pretty deep offensive club,” Kapler said.

But getting production from the marquee names is big too. Crawford’s two-run shot to right in the fifth off Rockies starter Chad Kuhl extended the Giants’ lead to 5-0. And for the second game in a row, Wade and Belt made an impact from the 1-2 spots in the batting order.

Wade, who missed the first 25 games with left knee inflammation, returned May 6. He had three hits and a walk on Wednesday, helping propel two scoring rallies. Belt, who returned on Saturday from a stint on the COVID-19 list, went 2-for-3 with a walk and drove in a run with an fourth-inning sacrifice fly.

“We know what kind of team we are when we have everybody in there,” Belt said. “We can withstand a player or two maybe being out for a while, and keep up the wins.

“But we had half our team gone [for a stretch]. That’s tough to overcome sometimes. When you get your everyday guys back in there, it puts everybody else at ease and everyone can kind of fall into their roles.”

The Giants open a three-game series Friday against St. Louis, hoping to continue their roll. Cobb, in his first season with the team, is impressed with what he’s seeing.

Asked about the Giants’ overall depth, Cobb said, “The fact that we’ll be halfway through the game, and we’ll have a full line change because they brought another pitcher in, and you’re just as excited about that lineup as you are the one that started the game, is very rare.”