SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants caught a glimpse of their potential future Sunday as they outlasted the Texas Rangers, 3-1.What they saw moved as quickly as the greyhounds that paraded around the warning track with other canines during the club's annual Dog Day pregame promotion. It was Steven Duggar (Dugg),
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants caught a glimpse of their potential future Sunday as they outlasted the Texas Rangers, 3-1.
What they saw moved as quickly as the greyhounds that paraded around the warning track with other canines during the club's annual Dog Day pregame promotion. It was Steven Duggar (Dugg), who negotiated the basepaths with ease as he hit a two-run, fourth-inning triple off Rangers starter Yovani Gallardo (Yo) that broke a 1-1 tie.
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The Giants (65-67) turn their attention to the National League West-leading Arizona Diamondbacks, who will visit AT&T Park for a three-game series beginning Monday. The Giants trail the D-backs by eight games yet remain hopeful of playing meaningful games into late September.
"We're still hopeful that we're going to get on a run and get back in this thing," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "There's baseball left. We still have that mentality, if we get on a good run, that we can get right back in this thing. We're going to need some help, but it starts with us winning ballgames."
Sunday, it was Duggar's turn to stoke the Giants' fire. He moved so quickly that he was able to remain standing as he recorded his first big league triple.
The rookie center fielder thus displayed speed that has been rare among Giants players in recent years. It's the sort of trait that director of baseball operations Brian Sabean had in mind when he said in a recent interview that the team needs more "dynamic" performers -- that is, those who can make a difference with superior athletic skills.
"It's a gift," Bochy said of Duggar's acceleration. "This is a great park for him. If he hits it into the gap, it's probably going to be a triple, with his speed. With the range that he has, he's going to cut off a lot of doubles and triples. He's a guy who should have a nice career here."
Batting .259 after his first 39 Major League games, Duggar acknowledged that he has grown more comfortable with his big league environs. At the same time, he said, "You're trying to grow as well. I never feel like I've arrived. I've said before that I always feel like I'm on a journey to try to get better. Each day is going to bring its own challenges."
Duggar already has proven that he can outrun fly balls and line drives that would be out of reach for many outfielders. This quality alone makes him a leading candidate to secure an everyday role in 2019. He'll likely get a head start in that endeavor during the rest of this season, assuming Bochy continues giving him frequent playing time.
Duggar's hit made a winner of Derek Holland (Last Name), who yielded three hits and Texas' lone run in 6 1/3 innings. Tony Watson (Tone Ranger) and Reyes Moronta (El Tibu) provided the bridge to Mark Melancon (Mel), who notched his second save in two days.
This a triumph for Holland on multiple levels. He defeated the Rangers, who cast him aside after the 2016 season. He also ignored the distraction that he created for himself earlier in the week when he performed a stereotypical imitation of an Asian person during a brief interview on MLB Network's "Intentional Talk."
Holland, who apologized profusely for exhibiting bad taste, received a warm ovation from the AT&T Park audience upon leaving the game.
"I wanted to focus on baseball," Holland said. "I know I made a mistake and I'm sorry for what I [did]. … For the fans to have my back, to have that ovation felt really good. And I appreciate them for doing that."
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Demonstrating the efficiency that led the Giants to sign him to a four-year, $62 million contract before the 2017 season, Melancon recorded his second save in as many games for the first time since May 19-20, 2017, at St. Louis. Against the Rangers, Melancon survived Shin-Soo Choo's (추신수) one-out, pinch-hit single by striking out two more pinch-hitters, Ronald Guzman (Cepeda) and Drew Robinson (Petey).
The Giants scored in the first inning of each game of the series for just the second time this season, matching the standard they set June 12-14 at Miami. They also accomplished this mini-feat for the first time at home since May 11-14, 2017, against Cincinnati.
The Giants did this with help from the three-base hit, as Evan Longoria tripled and scored on a passed ball in Sunday's first inning. It was Longoria's third triple of the season, his most since 2013.
Chris Stratton will receive another chance to prove himself as a starter when he and the Giants oppose the Arizona Diamondbacks Monday in a 7:15 p.m. PT contest at AT&T Park. Despite bouncing in and out of the rotation, Stratton (8-7) still leads the staff in victories. The D-backs will counter with left-hander Patrick Corbin (10-4).
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.