Giants Good Again in 2022, Just Not In the Manner They Were Good in 2021

by Morris Phillips

Expanded playoffs, universal designated hitters, shrinking batting averages and greater reliance on relief pitchers. Seemingly, all of baseball’s newest machinations favor the Giants and their preferred methods of competing.

Currently the Giants are bundled with three other NL clubs (Dodgers, Mets, Brewers) at the top of the standings in the first season in which six teams will qualify for postseason play in both leagues. No more roll of the dice in a Wild Card game means no one goes home after an initial, bad playoff game. When you’ve got a great shot to be in, it’s even better if you can’t all of a sudden be out.

Throughout baseball, batting averages are down, as is scoring. Trying to buck that trend are the Giants with their .248 team batting average, well above the .235 number that this season is considered average among the 30 teams. The Giants also are averaging 5.11 runs per game, which trails only the Dodgers. But those key metrics don’t mean that individual sluggers on the team haven’t had their struggles. Benefitting the Giants of course, is their philosophy to seek game-altering extra-base hits and homers at the expense of on-base percentage and playing the old-school, station-to-station game.

Given that, the Giants still draw their walks (ranking second with 144 free passes), utilize the sacrifice fly (they rank first with 20), and steal bases consistently, if not frequently with 21 steals and only six caught stealing situations. Those numbers weigh heavier given that the Giants aren’t a record-breaking, home run-hitting club this season with only 40 hit so far.

What they do is hit more than their opponent by a nice margin augmented by their league-low 26 home runs allowed. And when those home runs are hit, it’s usually in a close, low-scoring game. That combination, as it was in 2021, is a real weapon for the Giants: they win close games.

A major piece of that formula is the team’s bullpen which is currently loaded with standouts from closer Camilo Doval with seven saves to Taylor Rogers, John Brebbia and Jarlin Garcia as the key, setup options. With so many returners from last season in the team’s bullpen, comparisons are easy. And so far, this year’s group’s been that much better than last’s.

The Giants have won 8 of 11 leading into Friday night’s meeting with the Padres. In the coming weeks the Giants will see the Padres, Mets and the Dodgers, teams they need to measure themselves against in preparation for a possible, postseason appearance.

On Friday, Jakob Junis gets the starting nod in a matchup with San Diego’s Sean Manaea.

Giants, Webb run out of steam and blow their lead in a 5-3 loss to the Rockies

By Morris Phillips

As often happens, the decision to lift an effective, but laboring starting pitcher can be agonizing.

The decision to remove Logan Webb in the eighth inning on Wednesday was a no-win for the Giants and manager Gabe Kapler. Literally.

Trailing 3-2 to the Giants, and facing the likelihood of a record, 13th consecutive loss to their division rivals, the host Rockies rallied with three runs to gain a critical 5-3 win.

Connor Joe drew a leadoff walk against Webb, ending his streak of 16 consecutive, retired hitters, and that opened the door for Colorado. With Webb at 100 pitches, Kapler decided to remove his starter for reliever Jose Alvarez.

“After the second, which I thought was the more challenging inning, (Webb) was as good as we saw last year,” Kapler said. “This is a very, very challenging place to pitch into the eighth inning. I thought it was one of the better performances in recent memory for Logan.”

It also wasn’t the spot to lean heavily on his ace, thought Kapler. This early in the season, and with an effective bullpen cast ready to go. A two-run lead also provided Alvarez, who hadn’t given up a home run in more than 56 innings of work, a nice cushion.

But Charlie Blackmon sacrificed Joe to second, Yonathan Daza followed with an RBI single and C.J. Cron gave the Rockies a two-run lead with his long home run off Alvarez.

“We’d done a nice job up until that point with Cron,” Kapler said. “He hasn’t taken his best swings against us, which I think is a positive for our pitching staff. It’s really tough to fall behind him. He then is able to sit on a pitch like he did right there, and look, he’s one of the better right-handed hitters in baseball.”

Tyler Kinley retired the Giants in the eighth, and Daniel Bard recovered from a blown save on Monday to get the visitors out in the ninth, ending an agonizing slide for the Rockies, who were also trying to avoid a fourth straight loss overall.

The Giants concluded their road swing with a 3-3 record through Denver and St. Louis. They open a homestand on Friday night against the Padres.

Mike Yastrzemski had an RBI single on Wednesday and Austin Slater and Darin Ruf contributed run scoring, sacrifice flies. Ruf put the Giants in front in the fourth, and Webb cruised into the eighth. But it wasn’t enough to earn the Giants a sweep.

Sean Manaea gets the start for San Diego on Friday, and Jakob Junis goes for the Giants as they continue to utilize a bullpen strategy in the absence of injured starter Anthony DeSclafani.

Yaz Strikes Late: Big home run in the ninth gets Giants past the Rockies, 7-6

By Morris Phillips

Game deciding home runs look great and feel even better. Ask Mike Yastrzemski.

That felt really good,” said Yastrzemski of his ninth inning blast that broke a 6-6 tie in Denver on Monday night. “Just really trying to get a pitch to drive and elevate, and I got one.”

The Giants had an awful weekend in St. Louis, losing Saturday and Sunday without putting forth much resistance. The Rockies had an awful week, bringing their fast start to the season to a grinding halt. On Monday, both teams were desperate to change their storylines.

For the Rockies to be the club to rebound closer Daniel Bard would have needed a better executed pitch against Yastrzemski. It wasn’t and Bard was saddled with a blown save for the second, straight day after allowing two late runs to the Royals on Sunday.

“It was a breaking ball, probably middle-in, and probably not down enough,” Black said. “It looked to be middle-down, on the inside part of the plate and he kind of golfed it.”

Golf or baseball, Yaz looked good rounding the bases, part of his personal resurgence after he was infrequently in the lineup in last year’s postseason.

Neither starting pitcher lasted long on Monday, and the Rockies’ Antonio Senzatela departed with an injury in the second inning. Alex Wood didn’t survive a rough, fifth inning that saw the Rockies cut into the Giants 4-1 lead. That stuff happens at Coors Field, leaving the game decision up to both bullpen and whatever hitters can supply late-game dramatics. Yastrzemski, preceded by Curt Casali, who homered twice in the game, were the guys for San Francisco.

Casali homered in the third and the fifth innings to give the Giants their 4-1 lead. It marked just the third multi-homer game of his career that’s been built on catching and defense.

“It’s one of those stretches where I just feel good at the plate right now,” Casali said. “I work hard on defense, and that’s always a constant for me, and sprinkle in some offense here and there. It’s nice to drive in some runs and score some runs. It’s fun, that’s all I can say.”

John Brebbia and Camilo Doval closed the door for the Giants in the eighth and ninth after Tyler Rogers allowed a pair of game-tying runs in the seventh.

Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt had rough nights going hitless with a combined five strikeouts. Joc Pederson was 0 for 3 in the three spot in the batting order, and Tommy La Stella was hitless in his only at-bat before being lifted for a pinch-hitter. It was La Stella’s anticipated, season debut after injuries shelved him out of spring training.

Alex Cobb and Colorado’s Chad Kuhl are the announced starters for Tuesday’s game two of the three-game set.

Here Comes the Trade Deadline: Giants will be buyers, albeit smart buyers

By Morris Phillips

The Dodgers have the shiniest rings, the flashiest talent and superior depth, and money, always good at the trade deadline.

The Padres have a deep roster, Fernando Tatis Jr. and a wheeler-dealer mentality that trumps any seen previously at the big league level.

The Giants? They have a two-game lead in the NL West, the most remaining home games, and a pragmatic approach that’s almost guaranteed to underwhelm most trade deadline evaluators.

How will the Giants make this work?

As best they can, given their obvious restraints.

Team president Farhan Zaidi has made a bunch of progress in his nearly two years at the helm. The Giants farm system is healthy, the salary structure has clear definition, and this summer–when numerous, big ticket contracts come off the books–is the critical period for the organization to strike in the free agent market.

But the team wants to win now, and capitalize on its stature of being ahead of schedule, and ahead of the pack with MLB’s best won-loss record through 99 games. The schedule will be a factor in the decision making: only six of the remaining 63 games are against the Dodgers. Instead the Giants will see San Diego and Colorado 10 times, and Arizona nine. They’ll also see Milwaukee seven times, and the Braves and Mets six times each. Their home heavy schedule is considerably softer than say the Dodgers, who are on the road for 12 of the next 17, and nine straight within the last three weeks of the season.

The Giants won’t do as much as the Dodgers or Padres. The Dodgers want another starter–Trevor Bauer may not pitch again this season–and that won’t be cheap. The Padres are weighing big options as well. The Giants will settle for an extra bullpen arm, or an under-the-radar starting pitcher as long as neither cost them a Joey Bart or Marco Luciano, who are being groomed to be future, homegrown stars.

Positionally, the Giants will rely on their trainers to get Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford healthy. With those four in the mix, the Giants will be loaded with lineup options around the diamond. Any new names added to that mix would have to be overwhelming, and likely replace on the names already in the fold.

College roommates Yastrzemski and Gray meet again in Giants 6-3 win over the Reds

By Morris Phillips

Hey, a solo shot’s no big deal.

Sonny Gray and Mike Yastrzemski, college roommates at Vanderbilt a decade ago, didn’t have an opportunity to hash it out on Monday night. Yaz took Gray deep in the fifth inning to put the Giants up, 4-0, but by that point, the Reds couldn’t catch the ball, and the Giants were in full swing, doing their traveling home run show thing.

In other words, bigger issues were at hand then reminiscing about old conversations in college.

“I don’t think it fazed him,” Yastrzemski said of Gray’s reaction to the home run among friends. “We always talked about it and he said if I hit a homer in a game off him, it had to be a solo shot. So I don’t think he’s too mad about it. It’s something I hope we’ll eventually look back and give each other grief about and have fun with it.”

Just not on Monday. What was more pressing were the Reds’ recent struggles that have them losing lopsided contests, while the Giants have been surging, just what’s been needed to keep the club in first place with the Padres and Dodgers breathing down their necks.

After the 6-3 Giants win at Great American Ballpark, Gray was dead serious while reliving his inability to keep the hard-hitting Giants from going deep while needing to explain his defenses shortcomings behind him. For the record, Gray allowed two home runs while the Reds committed two damaging errors.

“A pitcher’s job is to continue to try to make pitches, make competitive pitches and continue to try to force soft contact,” Gray admitted. “There were some plays that maybe could have been made that weren’t. It was just sloppy. Like I said, it started with me.”

Gray surrendered a walk and two singles in a busy first inning that didn’t go wrong until Jonathan India couldn’t field Brandon Crawford’s ground ball cleanly, and compounded his mistake with an errant throw allowing Buster Posey to score the game’s first run.

In the fourth, Wilmer Flores went opposite field off Gray to put the Giants up 3-0, but the blast was preceded by Eugenio Suarez’ fielding error that allowed Crawford to reach. Yastrzemski’s homer came an inning later, the culmination of Gray’s outing that wasn’t good enough above or below the surface.

The Giants flew above the minutiae with the homers, now numbering 39 away from Oracle Park, which leads the majors in home runs hit by a club on the road. That the total didn’t stall at the cozy, riverfront ballpark made a statement. The Giants hit ’em, and combined with stingy defense and pitching, a winning formula has emerged.

So far, it’s a formula that’s kept the more talented Dodgers and Padres in the rear view. All three clubs won Monday, and the Giants maintained their division lead, a half game better than San Diego, and two games ahead of the Dodgers.

Meanwhile, the Reds are 6-6 in their last 12 games, but they’ve allowed at least six runs in each of the losses, none of which have been by fewer than three runs, including 9-2 and 9-0 routs. The Reds have gone more than a month with a losing record, having last been over .500 on April 21.

Logan Webb enjoyed his best start if the season, cruising through six, scoreless innings by keeping Reds’ hitters off balance with a nice mix of sinkers, sliders and fastballs delivered at an aggressive pace. Webb was tight-lipped about the strategy after the game, with the exception of extolling his quick pace. He also clarified his abrupt exit, saying his shoulder soreness concerned manager Gabe Kapler enough that he lifted his pitcher despite the fact he still had plenty in his tank.

Kapler said the Giants will conduct tests on Webb’s shoulder in the coming days, but he didn’t seem concerned that his pitcher could miss time.

The Giants continue their four-game set in Cincinnati on Tuesday with Anthony DeSclafani facing the struggling Luis Castillo, saddled with a 1-5 record and 7.71 ERA.

Yaz’ two run homer helps Giants split with Bucs 4-1; Wood’s win now 5-0 for SF

San Francisco Giants pitcher Alex Wood delivers a first inning pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates line up at PNC Park in Pittsburgh on Sun May 16, 2021 (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The San Francisco Giants were not about to let the Pittsburgh Pirates take the series on Sunday afternoon. After allowing the Pirates walk-off victories on Friday and Saturday, the Giants with Alex Wood pitching six innings and maintaining his perfect record beat Pittsburgh 4-1 to split the four-game series at PNC Park.

Wood (6-0) gave up one run, struck out six and walked one. Mike Yastrzemski hit a two-run homer to right-center field off David Bednar in the ninth inning to boost San Francisco’s lead to 4-1. Yastrzemski’s play sealing the Giants’ victory came after he missed Saturday’s game due to side soreness.

In the first inning, San Francisco scored a run on a grounder. Pirates outfielder Ka’ai Tom tied the game in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.

Buster Posey had three hits as well as a walk. Evan Longoria had a single off Mitch Keller in the sixth inning and broke the tie with a run on a wild pitch by reliever Clay Holmes.

Giants sidearmer Tyler Rogers allowed no runs in the ninth inning and nabbed his fourth save. But San Francisco left a runner on base in every inning except the last one and stranded 10.

The difference between Friday and Saturday, versus Sunday, was that Caleb Baragar, Rogers and Matt Wisler did what the relievers in the two losses could not.

With a 24-16 record, the Giants still lead the NL West.

San Francisco on Sunday also reinstated Alex Dickerson from the injured list and optioned LaMonte Wade Jr to the Sacramento River Cats. Brandon Belt, who has been experiencing side tightness, was scratched.

The Giants continue their road trip on Monday with the first of a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds. First pitch is at 3:40 p.m.

San Francisco Giants day off report: Cueto and Yastrzemski expected to return this weekend

San Francisco Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto throws against the Cincinnati Reds line up on Apr 14, 2021 is expected to return to the Giants pitching rotation by this weekend against the San Diego Padres (AP News photo)

By Jessica Kwong

The San Francisco Giants had Thursday off before they start a three-game series against the San Diego Padres on Friday.

After falling to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday and losing the series, the Giants could use some good news, and they got it.

Manager Gabe Kapler said Johnny Cueto, who has not pitched since April 14 due to a minor lat injury, will be back in the rotation this weekend. Cueto will start on Sunday against the Padres, which will be his fourth start of the season.

In the three games he’s pitched so far this year, Cueto has a 1.80 ERA, a 1.91 FIP and 18 strikeouts to four walks in only 20 innings on the mound. Cueto will replace Logan Webb, who struck out five and walked three in just 3 2/3 innings in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to the Rockies at Coors Field.

Additionally, who has been out since April 25, is expected to return this weekend.

Kapler hopes that Buster Posey, who left the game on Wednesday with a sore hamstring, benefited from the day off and will be back in action this weekend.

After the game on Wednesday, the Giants optioned catcher Joey Bart back out to Triple-A Sacramento, where he will start the River Cats season.

Perhaps the biggest news on the Giants’ day off was celebrating the 90th birthday of legendary center fielder Willie Mays. The Say Hey Kid spent nearly all of his 22 seasons in Major League Baseball with the Giants. The Giants filled their Twitter account with birthday messages and retweets honoring the Hall of Famer,

In addition, the Giants Community Fund introduced the Willie Mays Scholars, a program dedicated to addressing racial and educational inequities by providing black youth in San Francisco with scholarships of up to $20,000 and academic support.

Casali, Giants dial up another shutout, Giants open homestand with a 3-0 win over the Marlins

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–Deceptive advertising, that’s what it is.

The Giants tout a cerebral hitting approach, a lineup of dangerous sluggers, and explosive offense delivered late in games, but when you get to the park they give you pitching, more pitching and shutouts.

Not that there have been complaints…

Curt Casali, the Giants previously unknown backup catcher signed as a free agent in January, grabbed a slice of big league history Thursday by being the starting catcher in a fifth, consecutive Giants’ shutout, 3-0 over the Marlins. The feat hadn’t been accomplished by any big league catcher since Francisco Cervelli did it in 2015, and it brings Casali within one of Ed Phelps’ (Pirates) major league record of catching six, consecutive shutouts. Only five catchers–including Casali–have achieved the feat since 1901.

But what sets Casali apart from the other notable catchers, says it all about the 2021 Giants: five different starting pitchers have participated in the streak, a first. And nine different relievers have participated in the streak, no record, but impressive nonetheless.

Simply, the Giants have quality pitching and a couple of capable engineers running the show behind the plate.

“Me and Buster have worked really, really hard behind the scenes,” Casali said. “It feels like, finally, it comes to the forefront. I’m pretty proud. Obviously l’m not the one throwing the pitches.”

The advertised offense simply needed a cameo appearance versus the Marlins, providing three runs in the first. All three runs came after the first two hitters were retired on a single, two doubles with a walk of Evan Longoria mixed in.

Donovan Solano was placed on the injured list before the game with a calf injury. Longoria departed Thursday’s game after one at-bat, due to tightness in his hamstring. And Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford are dealing with various physical issues that kept both out of the starting lineup.

That’s the entire, Opening Day infield lineup out, and everything else the Giants had to offer in, yet they still made it work. Anemic batting averages, lessened defense at the corners, a travel-weary bunch returning from Philadelphia, but fortified with a bunch of quality pitches. That was the formula Thursday and Aaron Sanchez set the tone.

Sanchez allowed two hits, no walks in five innings, and did so with the speed on his fastball noticeably lacking. It mattered little as he induced ground-based and weak contact during his stint while lowering his ERA across four starts and nearly 20 innings to 1.83.

“My velo is down, but it’s been down,” Sanchez said. “It’s about getting outs, so I don’t really (reflect on) how hard I’m throwing.”

Gregory Santos followed Sanchez with his Major League debut and 98 mph fastballs mixed with 90 mph sliders made the occasion special. Santos struck out pinch-hitter Magneuris Sierra and leadoff man Jazz Chisolm, Jr. before inducing a ground out from Miguel Rojas on a 2-2 pitch.

With Santos and Camilo Duval, who debuted last week, the Giants bullpen has two, dynamic new arms. The catch? Both are extremely inexperienced, but talented, a gap that isn’t always bridged. But in these cases, the team’s willing to try.

The Giants’ 12-7 record is second only to the Dodgers among the 30 ballclubs. Achieving that mark with only seven home dates thus far is impressive, given the Giants have only lost once at Oracle Park.

On Friday night, Alex Wood faces Miami’s Sandy Alcantara at 6:45pm.

Giants smash three homers in hair-raising 3-2 win at San Diego

By Morris Phillips

The Giants didn’t impress anybody in Seattle with their late inning collapse on Thursday and eerily quiet bats on Saturday night.

But they did impress on Monday in San Diego.

Mike Yastrzemski, in a pinch-hitting role, broke a 2-2 tie with a home run in the seventh inning, propelling the Giants to a 3-2 win over the Padres at Petco Park. Yastrzemski’s big blow came after he was 1 for 13 against the Mariners, and told the local media he had no excuses for his substandard start to the season.

“I just stunk this weekend,” he said.

On Monday, Yaz was back in comfort zone: swinging a big bat, and characteristically saying as little as possible afterwards.

“We were gritty today, DeSclafani did great and we faced a good pitcher.” Yastrzemski told the NBC Sports Bay Area audience on the field after the game.

MLB.com’s Maria Guardado was able to get more out of Yastrzemski in a zoom session interview after the game, and the answers were revealing from one of the game’s more cerebral hitters.

“I was obviously hoping it was either a home run or a deep flyout,” Yastrzemski said. “It was kind of working into what I wanted to do mentally with my swing. I was getting beat a lot in Seattle and spinning off the ball. I just wanted to really stay through the middle of the field, and I just got a pitch that I could do it with.”

Yastrzemski’s home run off reliever Craig Stammen came on a 2-0 sinking fastball, and continued the slugger’s penchant for coming up with big hits in big spots, a trend that began in the COVID-truncated 2020 season. But Yaz wasn’t the only big bat for the Giants on Monday.

Darin Ruf homered in the second, and Evan Longoria homered in the fourth, his third round tripper in four games. All three blasts were solo shots and gave the Giants the lead each time.

Anthony DeSclafani made his San Francisco debut and held the Padres to one run on four hits in five innings of work. Even more significant was the team’s bullpen, working the final four frames while allowing a run on four hits as well.

Jake McGee picked up the save after walking Manny Machado and hitting Eric Hosmer with a pitch with two outs. Tommy Pham flew out with the two runners aboard to end it.

Padres star Fernando Tatis Jr. was injured while swinging at a pitch in the third. Tatis struck out and crumpled to the ground at home plate in obvious pain. He was diagnosed with a partially dislocated shoulder and could miss a month or more after signing a $340 million contract in the off-season.

Wondering how a 3-2 ballgame lasts 3 hours, 35 minutes in today’s baseball climate despite commissioner Rob Manfred’s insistence that games preceed at a faster pace? Here’s how.

Both teams started their fifth starter in their initial appearance of the season and both pitched deliberately. Between them, DeSclafani and San Diego’s Adrian Morejon started hitters with first pitch strikes on just 20 of 40 occasions. That led to a lot of deep counts, and lengthy at-bats as both pitchers were determined not to get hurt by lineups adept at extra-base hits and home runs. While both ultimately pitched well, they didn’t last long. Morejon, who had pitches hit as fast as 97 mph, allowed the first two Giants’ home runs, and was done after throwing 64 pitches in four innings.

DeSclafani threw 86 pitches in five innings of work, and had only one clean inning, the third, were he retired all three batters.

Both teams paraded relievers into the game after that–five on each side–and the common theme was yes, almost all pitched effectively, but they took their time. Matt Wisler, who found disaster in his previous appearance in Seattle, and McGee were particularly patient, mixing in balls and strikes at nearly an equal rate.

And that brings us to the main reason the game lasted so long: the Padres and Giants combined to throw 126 balls (with 184 strikes mixed in) and 314 pitches total. That’s a lot for a nine inning game, but reflective of how determined teams are of not letting lineups packed with power hitters hurt them. The Giants may be 2-2 and projected to finish third or worse in the NL West, but they can hit. Even at this early stage, and despite a Sunday afternoon off, the Giants lead MLB in homers with nine (tied with the Astros).

The Giants and Padres pick it up on Tuesday with Aaron Sanchez making his Giants debut in a matchup with Yu Darvish at 7:10 pm.

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.