For a while, the San Francisco Giants 5-4 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Monday night had all the makings of one of their early-season losses.
The Giants puttered along, staying within striking distance of the Cubs, but never looking quite at their level. Chicago jumped out to a 3-0 lead, behind something that April and May Giants knew nothing about: home runs.
The Giants kept pace,
Robel Garcia and Kyle Schwarber had a pair of dingers, the former became one of the more impressive splash hits. with Shaun Anderson limiting the damage, and the bullpen pitching beautifully. The offense showed grit, but an inability to hit the ball hard, far, or when it was needed most. Through seven innings, the Giants had nine hits, but Stephen Vogt had gone for extra bases. They'd scored two runs, but allowed four.
And then the eighth inning came, and the Giants continued to make a compelling case for a competent baseball team ̵
Pablo Sandoval led off the inning, and he's in need of a hit. Not only did Sandoval struggled mightily since the All-Star break, but he was 0-3 in the game, with all three outs in anning, including a double play with runners at the corners. Jason Heyward throw at second base.
After a Vogt strikeout, Brandon Crawford sent a back to Sandoval, and cut the lead in half. But a tailor-made ground ball from Kevin Pillar
Apologies for spouting cliches, but baseball is a game of inches. The Giants trailed, in part, because Anthony Rizzo scored the Cubs third run on a single to right field, when a divine throw from Austin Slater was in late because Vogt reached for the ball rather than letting it come to him. They trailed, in part, when Mike Yastrzemski scored the second time in the seventh, Kris Bryant made a diving grab.
And they took the lead, in part, because Pillar punched Dominic Toretto's nos button when heading up the line, and
Then Austin Slater did this:
And then Joe Panic did this:
And then the Giants led 5-4.
Will Smith did not pitch the ninth inning. This is almost because Smith has had three times in the past four days, and the Giants have been trying to keep their pen rested.
Still, with the deadline less than a week away, it's worth noting. If nothing else, it serves as an audition opportunity for Sam Dyson, who was given closing duties. Dyson quickly retraces two batters, walking in a little bit of a mess, walking Victor Caratini, and allowing a single to Addison Russell. But, with Tony Watson warming up in the pen, Dyson got black to pop up and end the game.
Speaking of Relief Arms, Drew Pomeranz made his first bullpen appearance of the year, and what magnificent, allowing no baserunners in two innings, while striking out four. Hey threw 23 of his 29 pitches for strikes, and got six swing-throughs.
The Giants are now 51-50.
Two innings are about to fall in love with each other.
The Giants are now 51-50. It's the first time they've been over .500 this baseball year.
The Giants came back to win for the 16th time in 19 games. Sam Dyson took the mummy to "Cat Scratch Fever" and snuckled out a save. They are over .500 for the first time since they were 61-60 on Aug. 14 of last season.
– Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) July 23, 2019
They have won 16 of their last 19 games. They're 29-16 since June started.
A come from behind, one-run win is fuel for the fires of both the "Giants are good!" And "LOL holy unsustainability" campgrounds.
And yet, above all, they're fun. They're in it. And they believe they're in it. If that's not evident, watch the clip of Panic's double again, and listen to Duane Kuiper – tell me that he makes a call in the eighth with that much verve in May, and I'll show you a liar.
The Giants just might mess around and win another seven-game winning streak. They just might mess around and give it a shot and why they're only one game above .500 even after this wild run.
I dunno. You dunno. They dunno.
But I'll pay attention to you.