For a while, the San Francisco Giants' 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night was the cause of one of their defeats at the beginning of the season.
The Giants kept moving forward, keeping a short distance from the Cubs, but never looking at their level. Chicago jumped to a 3-0 lead, behind something that those April and May Giants knew nothing about: home runs.
Robel Garcia and Kyle Schwarber had a pair of dingers, the first being one of the most impressive blows I can remember seeing by someone whose name does not rhyme with "hairy swans."
The Giants kept up, with Shaun Anderson limiting the damage and the bullpen throwing beautifully. The offense showed guts, but an inability to hit the ball hard, far, or when it was most needed. Over seven innings, the Giants had nine hits, but only a double by Stephen Vogt had gone for extra bases. They had scored two runs, but allowed four.
And then came the eighth inning, and the Giants continued to present a compelling case for being a competent baseball team, a case they have been doing for two months.
Pablo Sandoval opened the entrance, and he was in dire need of a hit. Sandoval had not only struggled a lot since the All-Star break, but he had a 0-3 record in the game, with the three outs finishing one inning, including a double play with runners in the corners. And he got a hit he did, placing one in the corner of the right field, and struggling to beat a good shot by Jason Heyward at second base.
After a punch from Vogt, Brandon Crawford sent one back in the middle to the Sandoval plate, and cut the lead in half. But a custom-made ground ball by Kevin Pillar threatened to interrupt a rally again.
We apologize for the clichés, but baseball is an inch game. The Giants lost, in part, because Anthony Rizzo scored the Cubs' third run in a single to right field, when a divine Austin Slater pitch was delayed an inch because Vogt reached the ball instead of letting it reach him. They crawled, in part, because when Mike Yastrzemski burned the seam of a ball with two in one and two in the seventh, it was close enough for Kris Bryant to make a diving grip.
And they took the initiative, in part, because Pillar pressed the button on Dominic Toretto's hand as he headed toward the line, and beat the pitch to keep the entrance alive.
Then Austin Slater did this:
And then Joe Panik did this:
And then the Giants led 5-4.
Will Smith did not release the ninth inning. This is almost certain because Smith threw three times in the last four days, and the Giants have been trying openly to keep their pen resting.
Still, with the trade deadline in less than a week, it is worth noting. In any case, it served as an audition opportunity for Sam Dyson, who was badigned closing tasks. Dyson quickly withdrew two batters, before getting into a mess, walking with Victor Caratini and allowing Addison Russell a single. But, with Tony Watson warming up in the pen, Dyson made Schwarber appear and end the game.
Speaking of relief weapons, Drew Pomeranz made his first appearance in the bullpen of the year, and it was magnificent, as he did not allow base runners in two innings, while striking out four. He threw 23 of his 29 pitches for strikes, and got six swing-through.
Two entries is a sample size too small to draw conclusions, but still, be my guest.
The Giants are now 51-50. It is the first time they exceed .500 this year of baseball. It is almost the first time they exceed .500 this calendar year.
The Giants won again for the 16th time in 19 games. Sam Dyson took the mound to "Cat Scratch Fever" and slipped away to save. They have surpbaded .500 for the first time since they were 61-60 on August 14 of last season.
– Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 23, 2019
They have won 16 of their last 19 games. It's 29-16 since June began.
A coming from behind, the victory of a race is the fuel for camp fires "The giants are good!" And "LOL holy unsustainability."
And yet, above all, they are fun. They are in it. And they think they are in it. If that isn't obvious, watch Panik's double video again and listen to Duane Kuiper. Tell me that you are calling for a hit in the eighth inning with such enthusiasm in May, and I will show you you are a liar
The Giants could waste time and continue with another run of seven consecutive wins. They may only play and lose seven in a row and remind us why there is only one game above .500 even after this wild race.
I dont know. You don't know They don't know
But I bet you're paying attention.