Flores, bullpen bail Giants out of an early hole in 6-4 win over the Mariners

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Forgotten in the Giants’ chaotic week of uncertainty and inactivity: the team’s bullpen is showing improvement and becoming a reliable force.

Trailing 4-1 after two innings, and reeling from starting pitcher Tyler Anderson’s ejection, and Mike Yastrzemski’s calf injury, just one of the things on manager Gabe Kapler’s wish list was scoreless innings from his relievers.

When it was all done, Kapler got seven of them, and a huge, offensive rally to squeeze past the Mariners, 6-4. Anderson, who drew Kapler’s ire for his ejection, received a huge reprieve as well.

“We were put in a really bad situation because of me, and our guys fought, and that was really great,” Anderson said . “I felt really terrible inside leaving them out to dry like that. But to see everybody step up and have big performances, that was huge for the team.”

Wandy Peralta pitched the third, fourth and fifth innings in the lengthiest and most effective outing of his big league career. Peralta threw 49 pitches while maintaining his velocity throughout, allowing no hits, one walk while striking out three. The reliever’s 207th big league appearance came and went without a hold or a win–or a change on the scoreboard–but it definitely made an impression.

“As tough as (Anderson’s ejection) was, it was equally rewarding, and in some ways inspiring, to see him come out and give us the length that he did and battle. He gave us a chance to climb back into the game,” Kapler said of Peralta.

Rico Garcia, Tony Watson, Tyler Rogers and Sam Selman followed Peralta, giving the Giants a scoreless frame each. None had it easy in terms of numbers of pitches thrown, but the strikeouts piled up. The Giants recorded 12 on Thursday, and 29 strikeouts in the two-game series.

Evan Longoria’s RBI single kicked off the Giants’ comeback in the sixth. Luis Basabe, the rookie inserted into the game when Yastrzemski departed, gained his first big league hit and scored for the first time on Longoria’s hit. Later in the inning, Brandon Crawford’s sacrifice fly scored Wilmer Flores and the Giants trailed by one, 4-3.

In the seventh, Flores tripled home a pair to give the Giants the lead, and Alex Dickerson’s run-scoring, sacrifice fly gave the Giants some insurance.

The Mariners dropped all four games with the Giants by an aggregate score of 31-13. Playing all four in San Francisco didn’t help, neither did the team’s offense which stalled at critical junctures.

“The Giants had our number this year,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I can’t really put my finger on it. They swung the bats very, very well against us and we struggled to close out innings against them.”

The win was the Giants 10th in their last 15 outings, a sign of team’s ability to stay locked in despite the team’s just completed week long odyssey which resulted in three, consecutive losses and confinement in two hotels. Now, they’ll finish the season with 11 games in 10 days, first in Oakland against the A’s then the final eight at Oracle Park against the Rockies and Padres.

The Giants are above .500 at 25-24 and the Rockies’ loss to the Dodgers Thursday night increased the Giants lead to three games in the important race to finish third in the NL West. The two other third place clubs in the National League–the Phillies and the Cardinals–also lost on Thursday enhancing the possibility that the Giants could finish seventh in the playoff stack and avoid the Dodgers in the postseason’s opening round.

Giants want the smoke in 10-1 thrashing of the Mariners

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–You’re like a lot of baseball folks, you want to decipher whether the Giants are any good or not.

Here’s some help with that.

After wiping out the Mariners 10-1 on Wednesday night at smoke-shrouded Oracle Park, the Giants have won 15 of 20, after an 8-16 start had them as indistinguished and anonymous as most thought they would be.

Well, it turns out the Giants have a winning identity that centers around consistently smashing baseballs. They’re not just good at it, they’re borderline elite. The Giants are averaging better than five runs a game (6th best in MLB) and they’re 22-11 in games they score four runs or more.

And these aren’t your Uncle Bruce Bochy’s Giants by any stretch either, these Giants hack: in 44 games, they’ve amassed 81 doubles (5th), 12 triples (1st) and 60 home runs (tied for 9th). In an empty, quiet park, the crack of the bat tells the tale. You can hear it, just like you see the water cannons and hear the foghorn when the home runs fly out.

Prime example from Wednesday’s blowout: the game’s scoreless in the third, and Mike Yastrzemski is batting with two runners on, intent to adding to his impressive slash line (.294/.402/.563). Manager Gabe Kapler sets the scene for the 1-2 pitch from Seattle starter Nick Margevicius with baserunners Brandon Crawford on second and Joey Bart on third.

“It’s just a comfort level hitting with two strikes,” Kapler said. “Interestingly we’ve been talking quite a bit about this, and so that’s caused us to dive into other great hitters, and most are comfortable hitting with two strikes. If they don’t get a pitch they’re comfortable with in the first couple pitches of the at-bat, (they’re) comfortable going deep, fouling off a pitch or two until they get a pitch to drive. In that particular at-bat against Margevicius, got to the fastball down and in, had seen several fastballs, and taken two good swings on the fastball, got to the fastball and put a good swing on it, and was right on it. Obviously a big three-run homer for us.”

“He’s been pretty consistent with his approach throughout the season. He’s comfortable going deep into counts sometimes he’s going to strike out looking. That’s okay. The result over the course of time will be walks and damage. And we’re definitely willing to make (that) tradeoff from time to time for a strikeout.”

Yastrzemski’s homer marked the eighth time he’s hit one this season in a two-strike count. And you caught Kapler’s reference to great hitters. Is Yastrzemski in that group? At age 30, with fewer than two years of major league experience under his belt, time will tell. But with no All-Star game to experience this year, Yaz is an All-Star, and he’s doing things great hitters do.

The Giants quickly put this one out of reach with a run in the fourth, and three spots in the fifth and sixth. It would be the third time the Giants have scored 10 or more in 23 home games this season.

Tyler Anderson picked up the win, after going 1-2 in his previous three starts, all against the Diamondbacks, with the former Rockies starter getting the complete game in the first start but failing to get out of the fifth inning in either of the last two. This time he pitched six, scoreless innings allowing just three hits.

“I knew it’d be pretty good to face another team and kind of refresh him a little bit,” catcher Bart said of Anderson. “I was glad that he did a great job tonight and went six innings for us.”

The ominous, dark, smoke-filled skies that essentially wiped out daytime in the Bay Area didn’t make for an unhealthy evening at the ballpark. But a superstitious manager Scott Servais probably took note of the twilight orange skies turning pitch black around the third inning when the Giants turned hitterish.

“Everything was orange,” Servais noted. “And when you’re playing the Giants and the sky is orange, it’s not a great feeling. And it certainly didn’t work out well tonight.”

The Giants travel to San Diego for the opener of a four-game set on Thursday with one of the NL’s hottest clubs in the Padres. Only 16 games remain, but only the next six are outside the Bay Area. After a two-game set in Seattle, the Giants finish with three games in Oakland followed by the final seven at Oracle Park.

MORE YAZ: He might fallen off the NL MVP pace being set by Fernando Tatis Jr. and Mookie Betts, but Mike Yastrzemski is back on his business in the last week. Yaz has hit safely in seven of his last eight games, building his numbers to 24 extra-base hits (2nd in the NL), 26 walks and 31 RBI, reflecting his blend of pop and patience. His eight home runs in two strikes counts leads all MLB hitters.

In his first 151 games at the big league level as a Giant, Yastrzemski is second only to Orlando Cepeda in amassing 70 extra base hits. Cepeda achieved the feat in 150 games. Also, Yaz has 30 home runs in that same period, equaling Bobby Thompson and Dave Kingman for tops in Giants history.

Giants stay pat at the trade deadline, zero in on the Rockies

photo: San Francisco Giants general manager Farhan Zaidi was dealing on Monday as the Giants acquired left hand pitcher Anthony Banda from the Tampa Bay Rays 

By Morris Phillips

The Giants won a road series for the first time in 2020, no small feat when you consider the physical and mental challenges involved with travel during the pandemic, along with trying to turn around 93 mph splitters.

The team picked to finish last in the last in the NL West is now a game behind third-place Colorado, and has won nine of 12 games. Baseball-Reference is feeling the Giants as well, saying they’re the (slight) favorite to overtake the Rockies for the last playoff spot in the National League’s expanded field of eight teams.

So the August 31 trade deadline must have been eventful for a club looking for reinforcements for the stretch run. Right?

The answer: not really.

The Giants acquired pitcher Anthony Banda, who had been placed on irrevocable waivers by the Rays. Dereck Rodriguez, who was designated for assignment by the Giants, got picked up by the Tigers. Two transactions, no trades for the Giants.

The message undoubtedly is that the front office likes this group, despite its flaws and bullpen deficiencies. But the greater point is–and this goes for all 30 teams–the 2020 deadline is no place for significant, and costly, player movement given the uncertainty for the rest of the season, and beyond with no framework for a new collective bargaining agreement in place for 2021 and beyond.

But for now, this point rings true: the Giants like this group, and more so, they like the significant improvement in their farm system and were reluctant to part with any prized assets.

“You can tell there’s a lot of belief within the group about what we can accomplish here down the stretch,” president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said on Monday after the 1pm deadline passed.

The Giants are offensively competent for the first time in years. From Mike Yastrzemski and Donovan Solano, who have appeared at the top of the NL’s offensive categories throughout the first half of the season, to Brandon Belt, Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson, the Giants have capable hitters throughout their lineup. At home, the group has averaged six runs per game, making Oracle Park seem hitter friendly maybe for the first time ever.

The pitching and defense have improved as the season has progressed, despite injuries to Jeff Samardzija and Drew Smyly, and the failure of Trevor Gott to seize the closer’s role.

Johnny Cueto has anchored the staff with a string of quality starts, including Sunday at Arizona where he allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings of work. Moving Cueto at the trade deadline never came to pass as teams passed on the hefty remainder of his contract.

The Giants biggest advantage however, maybe their remaining schedule. They remain one of the few teams that hasn’t experienced any disruptions to its schedule–excepting last week’s postponement in protest of Jacob Blake’s shooting. Their next two road contests loom as their biggest as the Giants visit Colorado for games on Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon. Their last 10 contests all take place in the Bay Area: three at Oakland, followed by the final seven at Oracle Park.

The eight qualifiers for the playoffs will be the top two finishers in each division, plus the next two best records. Because no one is playing league games outside their division, and the interleague schedule hasn’t seen any teams compile a difference-making record, finishing third in the West is the goal for the Giants. The Dodgers and Padres appear to be too far in front, and the third place finisher in the West should qualify, while the fourth place finisher probably won’t qualify.

The Rockies upgraded at the trade deadline, ironically by acquiring Kevin Pillar from the Red Sox to give them greater flexibility in the outfield. Pillar revived his career with the Giants in 2019, only to not be offered a deal by the club for this season.

The Giants send Kevin Gausman to the mound on Tuesday to face Jon Gray. Logan Webb will pitch Wednesday versus Kyle Freeland.

 

Led by Yaz the MVP candidate, Giants are contending at compressed season’s midpoint

By Morris Phillips

A week ago, the Giants were on life support, victims of too many ninth inning collapses in a short period of time. The prognosis? Take your medicine and get healthy for 2021.

A week later, and the Giants are sitting pretty, tied for seventh in an expanded, eight-team post-season pool that’s heated and refreshing.

How’s that? Well, in a 60-game season things happen fast. Fast like six-game winning streak fast.

Ok then, are the Giants any good, or is this smoke and mirrors?

That answer’s complicated, but let’s take a look.

Through 30 games–half the pandemic-truncated season–the Giants are 14-16, just six days after they were 8-16 and stuck in last place. Their schedule, unique given the uneven, 7/3 and 6/4 home/away splits for their four NL West opponents along with the sequence of the 60 games, has been especially harsh.

How harsh? The Giants have played 14 home games thus far, compared to a combined 11 games at Dodgers Stadium and Coors Field, both notoriously rough venues for visitors.

Given that, their schedule eases considerably in the second half starting with 19 of their remaining 30 games at Oracle Park or the Oakland Coliseum, which means just 11 more dates attached to hotel rooms, COVID restrictions, and the heightened, antsy atmosphere of being on the road in 2020.

The final 10 games? All locally, starting with three in Oakland, then the final seven at Oracle Park against the Padres and Rockies.

The expanded playoff field will take the top two finishers in each division plus the teams with the two best remaining records in the National League. While the Giants are competing for those final spots with the Cardinals (who have only played 17 games), Marlins and Mets, they don’t play any of those three teams, all of whom have horribly backloaded schedules due to COVID cancelations. Instead, the Giants will see either the Padres, Rockies or Diamondbacks in 20 of their remaining 30 games, allowing them to focus on climbing within the NL West and finishing second or third, both of which appear to be playoff spots at the moment.

The Giants boast one of the NL’s best offenses averaging nearly five runs per game, and nearly seven runs per game at home. So if you’re trying to envision how the Giants can win games down the stretch, start with the bats. In fact, in a recent development (in the last week, really) the Giants have an eye-popping 92 extra-base hits, 18 above the National League average. They’re third in doubles, second in triples and fourth in home runs with 38.

(If those numbers aren’t mind-numbing for Giants’ fans still stuck in the Bruce Bochy torture era, no numbers are.)

The pitching staffs the Giants will face aren’t imposing outside of the Dodgers and A’s, who are first and fifth respectively in terms of fewest runs allowed. The other four, remaining opponents have staffs with numbers at or well below the major league average, including the Mariners and D’Backs, who have been especially generous. Those four opponents with standard to substandard pitching account for 24 of the final 30 Giants’ game dates.

Offensively, the Giants have stars who not only reside among the league leaders statistically, but in many cases, lead the league. Austin Slater, currently on the injured list (and without enough at-bats to qualify) has an NL-best OBP of .458. Donovan Solano, despite cooling off recently, is hitting .363 with 33 hits.

And the Major League’s top offensive performer at the half way point, the unlikely MVP candidate who’s 30-years old with just 137 big league games under his belt?

Mike Yastrzemski.

The unassuming Yaz has a 309/.429/.645 slashline with 28 runs scored, 34 hits and 22 RBIs in 30 games. But there’s more: he’s second among all MLB performers in walks, triples, runs scored and tied for second in extra-base hits. In the complicated Wins Above Replacement (WAR) category, Yastrzemski has one peer: the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts.

Did we mention Joey Bart?

Giants fans, there’s only one requirement: stay tuned.

Giants’ Bullpen Blues: SF collapses in the ninth again, lose 7-6 to the Angels

San Francisco Giants left fielder Alex Dickerson, bottom, dives for a ball hit by Los Angeles Angels’ Tommy La Stella as third baseman Evan Longoria jumps out of the way during the fifth inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Monday, Aug. 17, 2020 (AP News photo)

By Morris Phillips

After the seventh inning, the perfect ending had to have crossed manager Gabe Kapler’s mind.

Six consecutive outs and the Giants could end their four-game losing skid with Mike Trout standing in the on-deck circle unable to lift his Angels.

If only Kapler had the horses..

Instead Trevor Gott surrendered a game-ending, two-run homer to Tommy La Stella in a 7-6 Giants’ loss, their third via a ninth inning collapse in four games.

For Gott, his season has gone from delight to disaster: the reliever elevated to closer has allowed six, ninth inning home runs while his ERA has ballooned to 14.73.

“We’ll look for a softer landing spot for him. I think we’re going to need to figure out how to get his confidence back,” Kapler said of Gott.

For La Stella and the Angels, the win was the perfect tonic for ending a four-game skid in which they were overpowered by the A’s before getting swept by the Dodgers over the weekend. The win marked the first time in 11 games they had won after trailing initially. And yes, the game did end with Trout due up next, but the prospect of the Giants getting what they wanted, fueled La Stella.

“I just wanted to make sure I didn’t swing out of the zone, especially with Mike coming up next,” La Stella said.

Trout did his damage earlier with a solo shot in the third that tied the game, 2-2. The Angels’ superstar became the first slugger to reach 10 home runs this season, only to see San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. homer twice in their game against Texas to take the Major League lead with 11.

For the Giants, Trout’s homer off starter Tyler Anderson marked an ominous milestone, the 20th consecutive game the team’s pitching staff has allowed at least one home run, an ongoing franchise record.

The Giants led 2-0 after Brandon Belt’s homer in the first, then after they trailed 5-3, a three-run rally in the sixth gave them the lead again. Mike Yastrzemski’s two-run double scored Brandon Crawford and Mauricio Dubon to make it 6-5 Giants in the sixth.

Relievers Jarlin Garcia, Tyler Rogers and Tony Watson each pitched scoreless innings to get the Giants to the ninth with the lead. But Gott couldn’t hold it, striking out Brian Goodwin on three pitches, and allowing David Fletcher a bloop single before La Stella ended it.

Dylan Bundy, in search of his fourth win, will start for the Angels on Tuesday, opposed by Trevor Cahill for the Giants. Cahill served as a starter and reliever in 2019, his one and only season as a member of the Angels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giants hit all four S’s–Splash, Scream, Safe, Socially Distant–in dramatic, 7-6 win over the Padres

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Mike Yastrzemski doesn’t have an ounce of demonstrativeness in his body. Low-key, business-like, and surprisingly productive, let’s call the Giants’ outfielder the prototypical star for socially distant times.

Yastrzemski’s second homer of the game in the bottom of the ninth propelled the Giants to an improbable 7-6 win over the Padres, their first at home in a pandemic-shortened season. The homer, which sailed just inside the right field foul pole and into McCovey Cove enlivened 30 of the 300 or so people scattered throughout Oracle Park, all 30 of whom came streaming out of the home team’s dugout to greet their hero. With only their voices audible in a 40,000-seat stadium, the celebration at home plate was surreal and brief.

“Obviously we’re trying to do our best to stay safe and avoid as much contact as possible,” Yastrzemski recounted. “Sometimes in that situation you just have to follow the lead and everybody was doing the right thing. We just jumped around.”

Coming into Wednesday’s game, the Giants ranked last in extra base hits, 29th in home runs and 28th in runs scored. With four home runs and triple among their 12 hits on the night, the unheralded squad look like a competent, offensive force for the first time in six games.

But most of that damage came after starter Johnny Cueto departed and Trent Grisham’s three-run homer off reliever Shaun Anderson left the Giants trailing 6-2 in the fifth.

But the Giants clawed back, first with Alex Dickerson’s solo shot to center in the sixth, and Donovan Solano’s improbable, three-run homer in the eighth to tie it.

The 32-year old Solano had homered just 13 times in 1,296 at-bats over seven big league seasons coming in, but that didn’t stop him from turning into a right-handed hitting Barry Bonds while facing veteran reliever Craig Stammen. On a 2-1 changeup running in on his hands, Solano some how got his hips turned and his bat moving with home run heft without sending the ball into foul territory.

“Luckily I have a short swing and I was able to do some damage,” Solano said through his interpreter Edwin Higueros. “The only thing I was trying to do was make solid contact and at least drive one run in.”

Reliever Tyler Anderson helped the Giants’ cause with 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief that kept the Giants within striking range before their rally began in earnest with two outs in the eighth.

“This team is full of fighters,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “These are their words and I believe them when they talk. They demonstrated that they can back those words up.”

The win prevented the Padres from claiming the major’s best record at 5-1, and an early lead in the NL West. San Diego got a two-run homer from Manny Machado, but they imploded late. Two Padres’ baserunners got picked off first base in the eighth, and three of the four San Diego relievers allowed home runs, preventing manager Jayce Tingler turning the ball over to All-Star closer Kirby Yates with the lead.

The Giants are expected to activate Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt from the disabled list prior to Thursday’s series finale. Kevin Gausman will be the Giants’ starter opposed by the Padres’ Dinelson Lamet.

 

San Francisco Giants podcast with Michael Duca: It’s a real Boston Marathon, Giants edge Sox in 15 innings; Yaz scores twice, gets two hits

Photo credit: mercurynews.com

On the San Francisco Giants podcast with Miguel:

#1 There was no giving up in this one and the Giants and Red Sox were not going to cry uncle anytime soon as this marathon went 15 innings that went to the Giants 7-6.

#2 Someone cried out “someone score!” as this one went until 2 AM EDT. Since one of the teams was a National League team (the Giants), there would be no 2 AM curfew, and lucky for both teams, they didn’t have to go until 2:30 AM.

#3 Anyone who works at Fenway press, concessions, security, engineers, front office, media or players will have to be glad that they don’t have to be back at the park until after 12 except the TV production crew, whose call time is the early morning. They might as well sleep in the production truck.

#4 Big night for Giants leadoff hitter outfielder Mike Yastrzemski and grandfather Carl, who had a mini reunion at the park before the game. It’s not too often the Giants get to come to Boston. This had to be something special.

#5 Taking a look at tonight’s pitchers. For the Giants, Jeff Samardjiza (10-12, 3.72 ERA), and for the Sox, Jhoulys Chacin (3-10, 5.44 ERA). Michael talks about the matchup.

Michael Duca does the Giants podcasts each Wednesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

San Francisco Giants podcast with Morris Phillips: Excitement builds, Yastrzemski scheduled to play all 3 games at Fenway Park

photo from sfgate.com: San Francisco Giants’ Mike Yastrzemski scores after hitting a solo home run during the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Friday, Aug. 16, 2019, in Phoenix. It was Yastrzemski’s third home run of the game. It was Yastrzemski’s third home run of the game.

On the Giants podcast with Morris:

#1 Whose got to be more excited about Giants outfielder Mike Yastrzemski playing at Fenway Park? Starting on Tuesday night, Yastrzemski, his grandfather former Boston Red Sox Carl Yastrzemski or our very own MLB analyst Bill Gould?

#2 On Sunday against the Miami Marlins, Yastrzemski scored on a diving head first slide to score one of the Giants’ two runs, which was enough to get by the Marlins 2-1. Yaz is having a rookie season hitting .265, 56 runs, 87 hits, and 51 RBIs.

#3 Giants starter Johnny Cueto pitched five innings of shutout ball and gave up three hits in the win. The Giants had five pitchers come into relieve after Cueto left and they combined to hold off the Marlins to just one run.

#4 This is kind of a special series besides of the reunion of grandfather and grandson Yastrzemski. The Giants, who do not play at Fenway except for every three years. This is a special place for them to return to since it doesn’t happen often to come to a historical place like Fenway.

#5 This will be Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s last road trip as manager. The Giants conclude their 2019 road schedule in Boston and then to Atlanta. Pablo Sandoval, who was a Red Sox but not on this trip, wouldn’t quite expect the same reception Yaz will.

Morris Phillips does the Giants podcast each Sunday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

Thin Bullpen: Giants wilt in the ninth, Pirates win 6-4 in front of smallest crowd since 2010

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO — Kevin Newman maybe auditioning for a role as the Pirates’ leadoff man, but he maybe better suited as the team’s focal point.

Newman knocked in a pair of runs in a four-run ninth inning and the Pirates shocked the Giants 6-4 on Monday night. The Pirates improved to 11-5 in the games the speedy, powerful Newman has batted leadoff.

The Giants started Madison Bumgarner, who was attempting to win for the 61st time at Oracle Park, surpassing former teammate Matt Cain as the winningest pitcher in the park’s history. Bumgarner was in line for the win after allowing two runs and six hits in seven innings, but the Giants’ injury-ravaged bullpen let him down.

With relievers Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson and closer Will Smith unavailable due to injuries, manager Bruce Bochy stuck with Tyler Rogers, who pitched a scoreless eighth inning. But Rogers allowed Kevin Kramer to reach on an infield single, and was replaced by Fernando Abad after just one pitch in the inning.

Abad walked Josh Bell, and gave up Elias Diaz’ lengthy drive to the left field gap that one-hopped the wall. But the smash registered as just a base hit when Mike Yasztremski fielded the ball cleanly and appeared to have a catch to the Pirates’ baserunners. Both Kramer and Bell retreated as Diaz advanced almost creating an out-making logjam on the basepaths, but the Pirates were still set up with bases loaded and Newman up.

Newman delivered to tie it, the first time the Pirates had been even since the fifth inning. Kevin Reynolds’ base hit untied it, and Jose Osuna provided insurance with his sacrifice fly that scored Newman.

“Too bad we couldn’t hold on to give him a win,” Bochy said of Bumgarner, his strong outing squandered.  “You look at his body of work; he’s been a savior. Guys who give you innings like that are invaluable. Not just innings but quality innings.”

The Giants fell to 30-39 at home–the third worst record in the National League–after losing for the sixth time in their last seven home games. Meanwhile, the youth-infused Pirates have won 11 of 17 after being dreadful for almost all of July and August.

Newman and Reynolds, the former Giants minor leaguer acquired in the Andrew McCutchen deal, have been a big part of the recent surge.

“I think the combination of the two has them getting the results they’ve been getting,” said manager Clint Hurdle.

Road Titans: What if the Giants never came home to San Francisco?

By Morris Phillips

What if the Giants never came home to Oracle Park, and hung out on the road for the entirety of the 162-game slate in 2019?

Well, that’s a scenario for a playoff team.

Of the six teams the Giants are currently jockeying with for the two NL Wild Card spots, only the Giants have a winning record on the road. But what’s even more telling, the Giants are the only one of the six who aren’t at least 10 games over .500 at home, and in fact, the Giants are under .500 at home even at the late stage of the season.

How’s that? The Giants newly found offensive stars all perform better on the road, than at home (with the exception of Kevin Pillar), and for most, the difference in productivity is dramatic.

Brandon Crawford has 40 hits and 10 RBI at Oracle Park. But on the road, he’s produced 49 hits and 39 RBI. Buster Posey has yet to homer this season in San Francisco. In road games this season, he has six homers and 12 doubles. Mike Yasztremski has 15 RBI at home, 30 on the road. Evan Longoria has three home runs at Oracle Park, 12 on the road.

As a team, the differences are just as stark. The San Francisco offense at home ranks 29th out of 30 teams, hitting just .228. The Giants on the road have MLB’s 12th ranked offense, hitting .255 as a club. When the club opens a home stand, they’re 2-10 in the first game of the set, showing how the team struggles to adjust to the pitching-friendly environment at home after experiencing better offensive conditions on the road.

GM Farhan Zaidi has done a wonderful job incrementally improving the team’s attack with under the radar moves, none with the impact that adding Bryce Harper as a free agent would have made in the off-season. But the moves have been effective. But the next step is building an offensive attack that thrives in San Francisco. Given the numbers produced so far this year, it won’t be an easy step.