By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–The typical Giants hitter is nearly 31 years old–more than two and a half years older than the MLB average–has an injury history, and maintains a healthy appetite for hitting home runs. They’re discerning at the plate, draw walks at a high rate, and they rake when a pitch arrives they think can drive.
Sound like 2001 Barry Bonds? Well, yeah it does.
The Giants put it on the Angels, winning 6-1 on Memorial Day while hitting three home runs in the process, and achieving a feat that hadn’t been done by the franchise since 2001. The Giants hit multiple home runs for a sixth straight game, something that was last done by the 2001 club that had 36-year old Bonds hit 73 homers and draw 177 walks… and win 90 ballgames.
On Monday, it was 35-year old Evan Longoria hitting a two-run shot in the fourth to give the Giants the lead 2-1 which they would never relinquish with starter Johnny Cueto dipping and dealing in front of the home crowd. Mauricio Dubon and Lemonte Wade Jr. would add solo shots in the fifth and sixth innings to expand the lead.
Ironically, Longoria and Wade connected on first pitch sinkers delivered by Dylan Bundy. Dubon–improving as a hitter deep in counts–delivered on a slider six pitches into his at-bat. All three pitches left Bundy in a deeper funk as he fell to 0-6 with a 6.49 ERA on the season. One year after allowing five homers all season, Bundy has allowed 12.
“None of them were technically where you want them,” Bundy said of the three pitches that were launched. “You got to throw everything on the edges nowadays, so none of them were where I wanted them.”
Bundy wasn’t awful, but he made mistakes. After cruising through the first three innings, he appeared to be in a groove. But the Giants were playing their patient role to perfection, and when mistakes were made, they pounced. That put the home team in their wheel house from an offensive perspective. They finished the afternoon with six walks induced, the three homers, just seven hits, but six runs scored. Their 78 home runs over the season’s first 54 ballgames is the second best total in Major League Baseball behind the Braves’ 80.
The Giants (34-20) have suddenly won four straight and regained the top spot in the NL West with the Padres falling to the Cubs on Monday. After dealing with the menace of the World Champion Dodgers, the Giants appear ready to regain their winning ways. Manager Gabe Kaplan said he sees signs pointing in that direction.
“I thought this was a really important win for us because of the emotion and energy we spent to try to win the Dodgers series,” Kapler said. “We knew that Bundy would come out and throw a lot of strikes and force us to put the ball in play, which he did. I feel like it’s important because there can be an emotional letdown after a series like the Dodgers [series]. We know that the Angels are a great team, and we weren’t going to let that happen.”
Cueto improved his record to 4-1 on the season, going seven innings, allowing five hits and no walks. The crowd gave the veteran a nice ovation, and Cueto reciprocated, saying he enjoys the interaction, which has missing for more than a season now.
“It got me excited and emotional to see the fans getting behind me,” Cueto said.
The only negative on the afternoon involved Longoria, who departed after five innings with a sore muscle in his side. The veteran will have an MRI on Tuesday and miss at least one game.
The Giants conclude their brief two-game set with the Angels on Tuesday with Alex Wood attempting to break his two-game losing streak in a match up with the Angels’ Andrew Heaney.