SAN FRANCISCO -- A team bearing a .500 mark is believed to be mediocre, stagnant or bland. Right now, the Giants don't fit that description.To be sure, they own a pedestrian 14-14 mark. But after sealing their third consecutive series win with Sunday's 4-2 triumph over the archival Dodgers, the
SAN FRANCISCO -- A team bearing a .500 mark is believed to be mediocre, stagnant or bland. Right now, the Giants don't fit that description.
To be sure, they own a pedestrian 14-14 mark. But after sealing their third consecutive series win with Sunday's 4-2 triumph over the archival Dodgers, the Giants appear poised to face more challenges.
They've leveled their win-loss record by winning seven of 10 games, receiving contributions from various individuals through that stretch. That sort of thing has become necessary with injuries sidelining Hunter Pence, Mac Williamson and Joe Panik and slumps gripping Evan Longoria, Buster Posey, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson at various junctures. The Giants even endured a stretch when their top three starting pitchers were simultaneously on the disabled list.
Manager Bruce Bochy's club should be closer to last place than first in the National League West. Instead, the Giants are gaining belief and trust in themselves. They know that, in their case, a .500 mark is deceptively low.
"It's not an area we hoped we'd be in," Bochy said after Longoria's three-run homer in the first inning gave the Giants all the scoring they would need. "But considering some things that have happened, it's OK."
Things are almost always OK when Ty Blach faces the Dodgers. He's 4-2 with a 2.03 ERA in 10 career appearances against the Dodgers, compared with 7-13 and a 5.14 ERA in 35 appearances against other Major League clubs. Blach's latest triumph over Los Angeles was typical. He avoided beating himself by issuing just one walk. Dismissed by many observers as a soft-tossing lefty, Blach demonstrated he could bring the heat when he needed to by fanning Austin Barnes with a 90 mph fastball after Cody Bellinger doubled to open the fifth inning.
"You try to stay away from throwing some of the similar sequences that you have in the past," Blach said, explaining his consistent success against the Dodgers.
Very little has been consistent about the Giants' offense. Their NL-low batting average with runners in scoring position dipped to .203 on Sunday. However, they have started to generate the clutch hitting every team needs. Longoria's homer capped a two-out rally, and Brandon Belt produced San Francisco's other run with a two-out, third-inning double. Belt has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, showing hints of the excellence predicted from him years ago.
Ultimately the ninth inning arrived, and in came Hunter Strickland to notch his seventh save in nine chances and fifth in a row overall. He delivered a glowing review of the Giants: "Coming in, we knew we had a great team, a great lineup and a great pitching staff."
"Great" is probably an overstatement. But after entering the season with the Majors' worst record since the 2016 All-Star break, the Giants are entitled to feel great about any sustained success.
If you think it isn't a big deal for the Giants to win three consecutive series, think again. The last time they accomplished this was May 11-21, 2017, when they victimized the Reds, Dodgers and Cardinals.
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lf Gregor Blanco looked especially fast as he ran out his fifth-inning triple, it's because he was. According to Statcast™, Blanco reached third base in 11.12 seconds, making it the third-fastest triple by a Giant since the inception of Statcast™ in 2015. Blanco's sprint speed reached 29.3 feet per second, well above the Major League average of 27.3 and close to the elite level of 30.
The Giants' season-opening stretch in which they play NL West rivals in 23 of 31 games concludes with a three-game series against San Diego beginning Monday at AT&T Park. Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija will oppose Padres lefty Eric Lauer in the 7:15 p.m. PT series opener.
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.