By Morris Phillips
SAN FRANCISCO–On 77 occasions this season, the Giants have felt great about themselves and their play. After Monday’s win, that good feeling was running rampant throughout their clubhouse.
“We’re working the ball through the middle, we’re not letting the starter steal strikes from the very first pitch and we’re ready to go right when the bell rings,” Monday’s hero Kris Bryant said. “It’s really fun to be a part of.”
Bryant homered twice–the first time to give the Giants the lead, then later to build on that lead–and the Giants outlasted the Mets, 7-5 at Oracle Park. The team’s big trade deadline acquisition had gone more than two weeks without home run after doing so in his first game with his new club on August 1.
“After the second one, obviously back-to-back is going to get the crowd going,” Bryant said. “I felt that one. That one, I just can’t thank (the fans) enough. They’ve embraced me with open arms and it’s really been a great time playing in front of them.”
Bryant’s second homer in the seventh came one pitch after Brandon Belt connected, and extended the Giants lead to 6-3 in a game the Mets briefly led 3-2 in the fifth inning. The Mets answered with Jonathan Villar’s two-run shot in the eighth, but Jake McGee closed the door after that, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth for his career-best 26th save.
Bryant and McGee weren’t the Giants only stars on the night. In fact, there were a bunch as the club bagged its most satisfying win in weeks, and maintained its four-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West.
Kevin Gausman picked up his 12th win–a career high–by pitching five innings, allowing three runs while striking out seven. The seven strikeouts caught notice as the team’s ace has struggled since the All-Star break. On Monday however, Gausman had great fastball location, and life on his cutter, as Mets’ hitters struggled to find balance attacking his pitches. Still, Gausman’s outing wasn’t without its wart: Pete Alonso’s hard hit triple keyed a three-run fifth that briefly gave the Mets the lead.
Brandon Crawford continued his hot hitting with four hits, Wilmer Flores knocked in a run against his former team, and Brandon Belt came up big with his pinch-hit home run in the seventh.
A couple of the Mets complained about the scheduling that saw the team play at home in Citi Field on Sunday night against the Dodgers than have to fly all the way across country to face the Giants on Monday night. The Dodgers made the same trek, and survived, beating the Pirates 2-1. And to be fair, the Mets survived too, thanks to starter Rich Hill, and his underwhelming but effective repertoire that kept the Giants under raps until the fourth when they strung together five, consecutive hits for a 2-0 lead.
The Mets are in the midst of a concerning stretch of 13 games against the Giants and Dodgers that could decide their fate in the NL East. The club had lead the division until they slumped coming out of the All-Star break, allowing the Phillies and Braves to surge. The Mets are 0-4 in the stretch so far, a stretch which as challenging as any in the last 40 seasons at this stage of the season. Both the Dodgers and Giants have winning percentages above .600 and no club has faced teams with such superior win percentages 100 games into a season for this lengthy a stretch since the Blue Jays did it in 1980. The Jays didn’t fare well either, winning just four of the 13 games.
The Giants moved a season-best 35 games above .500, and have the second-best, 119-game start to a season in San Francisco Giants history at 77-42. The Giants have won 16 of 21, and a much more modest stretch of 23-20 to end the season would net them 100 wins.
On Tuesday, the Giants welcome the much anticipated appearance of Logan Webb, who will be trying to win a sixth, consecutive decision dating back to May 11. New York will counter with Marcus Stroman, who will be facing the Giants for only the second time, and the first as a Met.