SAN FRANCISCO -- Lackluster play by the Giants resulted in back-to-back losses to the lowly Pirates, but they still entered Sunday with the best record in baseball. One major reason for their sustained success? They tend to bounce back from defeats better than anyone.
The Giants played back up to their high standards by beating the last-place Pirates, 6-1, to fend off a three-game sweep at Oracle Park. With the win, San Francisco improved to 62-37 overall and 25-12 following a loss, the best mark in the Majors.
“I feel like any time that we take a little step back, guys are eager to get back to the park and right the ship,” Wade said.
The Giants will now aim to keep that momentum going on Tuesday, when they host the Dodgers in a three-game series that could have major implications for the National League West standings in the days leading up to Friday’s 1 p.m. PT Trade Deadline.
The Giants, who took three out of four games from their archrivals during an intense series at Los Angeles last week, will enter the showdown two games ahead of the Dodgers and 5 1/2 games ahead of the Padres, who already made a splash by reportedly acquiring All-Star infielder Adam Frazier from the Pirates on Sunday.
“It’s always a big series against the Dodgers,” Wood said. “We just need to take care of the baseball, play clean and pitch well to give us a chance to win and guys to get that big hit. That’s usually what it comes down to, playing a good team like that. Obviously, we love playing at home, so it’ll be a great series. It’ll be another good test for us, but we’ve just got to keep the pace.”
Wood, who is now 8-0 following Giants losses this year, once again embraced the stopper role, giving up one run over 5 1/3 innings while walking two and striking out eight. The 30-year-old left-hander departed with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth, but Jackson managed to preserve a one-run lead for the Giants by inducing an inning-ending double play from Kevin Newman.
“He’s coming into these games with kind of a head of steam,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He believes in his ability to execute that slider. He is totally fearless with it. He understands that if he’s out of the zone with it and you see a few takes like you saw with Newman, he has the ability to get back in the zone with his fastball or throw a slider for a strike. Right now, it’s swing and miss, and it’s balls on the ground. In this case, it was a perfectly executed ground-ball double play from a very confident pitcher.”
A fired-up Jackson pounded his glove as he walked off the mound, sharing a high-five with catcher Curt Casali before returning to the Giants’ dugout. The 33-year-old journeyman signed a Minor League deal over the offseason, but he missed the beginning of the 2021 campaign after undergoing surgery to repair a torn hamstring.
Since having his contract selected from Triple-A Sacramento on July 16, Jackson has dominated, striking out nine over six scoreless innings and quickly ascending into a high-leverage role out of the Giants’ bullpen.
Wade went 3-for-5 out of the leadoff spot and homered in each of his first two at-bats against Pirates right-hander JT Brubaker to secure his first career multi-homer game. He led off the first by driving a 2-2 sinker out to center field to tie the game, 1-1, and then blasted a low changeup out to right-center to put the Giants ahead for good in the third.
“LaMonte’s ice cold, man,” Wood said. “There’s no other way to put it. He just grinds every pitch. He doesn’t take a single pitch off. He’s locked in from the very start of the game to the very finish. I think he likes those moments. He wants to be in those moments. He wants to be a dude, and he’s proven to be one.”
Wade, 27, hit only two homers over 42 games with the Twins over the past two seasons, but he now has a career-high 12 across 49 games with the Giants this year. Wade said he worked with his former hitting coach at the University of Maryland, Matt Swope, to make some adjustments over the offseason that have helped him unlock more power.
Wilmer Flores also reached a dozen homers with a solo shot that hugged the left-field foul pole and highlighted a three-run sixth. Thairo Estrada later added another solo blast in the eighth to cap the Giants’ scoring. The contributions of Wade, Flores and Estrada have allowed the Giants to withstand injuries to their starting infield -- Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella and Brandon Crawford -- but the team is getting closer to getting some of their veterans back.
La Stella started a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento over the weekend, and Kapler said Crawford could be an option to return from the injured list as soon as he’s eligible on Thursday. While Trade Deadline talk promises to dominate the conversation this week, the Giants might not necessarily have to look outside the organization to bolster their roster.
“Just healthy and productive players that we currently have rehabbing could be a huge boost to us going forward,” Kapler said.