The Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks two games to one at Oracle Park this week, losing a cliffhanger on Monday night Giants 3, Diamondbacks 4; exploding for a massive score in a shutout on Tuesday Giants 13, D-backs 0; and pulling together a taut bullpen game that featured a walkoff Brandon Crawford single today, Wednesday Giants 4, Snakes 3.
The Giants are (5 – 8) in July, amidst the longest consecutive game stretch of the season. This weekend Milwaukee comes to town for four, which means the Giants can still come out (9 – 8) – above .500 – for the seventeen games in seventeen days that I call the Gauntlet II.
Bullpen Game Record
The Giants are (5 – 4) in bullpen games if you count Disco’s last start, when he had to leave in the third.
Bench Bats and Bullpen Game Combination
Gabe Kapler and the staff executed the game plan to perfection in today’s bullpen game. John Brebbia opened with a scoreless first and they stayed in it, despite that Sammy Long, the second of the six relievers that would be used, gave up three runs in the second. This was an interesting moment in the game.
As a fan who has loudly decried the bullpen game as a serviceable idea, it is very hard to watch Kapler leave a guy like Long out there past three batters when he’s getting beaten up so early in the game. It feels like we are just falling behind early for no good reason. I mean Long gave up a lead off double to Jake McCarthy, a single by Buddy Kennedy that moved him over to third, and then a triple to Daunton Varsho that drove them both in.
The temptation for me as a fan was to scream, “get him out of there! He doesn’t have it!” Three straight guys had hits, it was two to nothing with nobody out.
But Kapler left Sam Long in. The principle of a bullpen game is that you are responsible for your innings. Long managed to get the next three batters – pop-up, ground-out, strikeout – to end the inning and strand Varsho. I was wrong. Kap was right. Then Kap really frayed my nerves and sent Long out for the third!
Sam Long went out for the third inning and picked up Rojas on a fly-out to left. Then he gave up a 406-foot homer to Ketel Marte, an infeld single and not one, but two walks. Sam Long faced twelve batters over one and two thirds innings – the second and third innings – of this game. He gave up three earned runs.
Yet, the philosophy played out. The rest of the staff never gave up another run and the bats came through in the clutch. We hid the weakest staff ember of this particular night in the early innings and then made up for whatever he lost against the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, using bench bats in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. The Giants trailed by Sam Long’s three runs until the seventh.
In the seventh Brandon Belt homered. Then Thairo Estrada singled and Mike Yastrzemski doubled him over to third. David Villar drove a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Estrada and moving Yaz to third. The starters had us on the board and only down a run.
In the eighth, Kapler went to all bench bats. The first, Wilmer Flores, hitting for catcher Austin Wynns, resulted in the tying run, a solo shot. The other three: Darin Ruf, hitting for LaMonte Wade Jr., Yermin Mercedes hitting for Joc Pederson, and Luis Gonzalez hitting for Austin Slater were all fruitless. But the game was tied.
In the ninth, the starters came in and finished the job as Belt singled to right, Yaz doubled him to third, Villar walked to load ’em up and Brandon Crawford drove in the winning run with a single.
It was extremely satisfying to see the Giants touch up Mark Melancon who stole all that money from us and delivered us nothing in the clutch, only to turn around and deliver for the Atlanta Braves and San Diego Padres against us in the following years.
The Giants flirted with dropping below (.500) these past few weeks during this seventeen games in seventeen days stretch, but today’s win gets us a little breathing room in advance of Milwaukee coming to town for four.
The Wildcard Race
An early look at the wildcard race has the Giants with a little breathing room thanks to the series win, and importantly we have as many losses as the two teams above us, and can improve our standing with wins against Milwaukee.
Atlanta (53 – 37)
San Diego (50 – 39)
St. Louis (48 – 42)
Philadelphia (46 – 42)
San Francisco (45 – 42)
Miami (41 – 45)
Milwaukee Comes to Town
The Giants have four with Milwaukee, who lead the NL Central, to end the seventeen games in seventeen days, Gauntlet II. Last year, in the Gauntlet of sixteen games in sixteen days, they finished with a flourish by being the only team to sweep Colorado at altitude. The bounce back in this staff is strong, and they are very streaky. Let’s hope we can end the first half with a winning streak and go into the All-Star Break sitting pretty as buyers.
Let’s Go Giants!
Beat the Brew Crew!
Mop up the beer!