They’re hanging in there by a thread.
Offensively the Giants bats needed to wake up, and they did Tuesday night. Big hits from Austin Slater (2-for-2, 3 BBs, HR, RBI), Alex Dickerson (1-1, HR, RBI), Joey Bart (2-for-4, 2 2Bs, RBI), and Brandon Belt (1-2, 2 RBIs) carried the Giants to a 5-2 victory.
Heading into Tuesday night’s game, the San Francisco Giants (27-27) found themselves tied for the final wild card spot in the National League. After an ugly loss to the Colorado Rockies (24-30) Monday night, the Giants needed a bounce-back game Tuesday.
Smyly did a great job of escaping a messy start to the game, retiring the next three batters while the Rockies stranded both runners.
The Giants didn’t waste any time scoring runs Tuesday night. Slater launched a solo home run to left, giving the Giants a quick 1-0 lead.
This season, Slater has set career highs in home runs (5) and stolen bases (8) while only playing 27 games. After the game, he discussed why he’s having more success this season:
“I think a lot of it is comfort level, and having been around. Especially since we’re playing the NL West a lot, comfort level with this division. It also comes down to adjustments made with the coaching staff, with my swing especially, and my comfort and confidence level with [Gabe Kapler].”
Without Mike Yastrzemski, who has been nursing a calf injury, Slater’s return has provided the Giants with a consistent boost atop the lineup. Giants manager Gabe Kapler gave an update on Yastrzemski, and what we can expect from him over the final week:
“Obviously we want him to play defense, run the bases, and be fully capable of doing it, all of the things he did before the injury. We’re going to have to take smaller steps than that, and even just having him available to pinch hit tomorrow would be a huge step in the right direction and give us confidence that maybe a few days later, he might be starting a baseball game for us. At this point, given how quickly he’s progressing, there’s no need to rule anything out, even for tomorrow.”
Smyly cruised through the first three innings, holding the Rockies scoreless. The Giants bullpen has been used extensively the past week, so the team was looking for Smyly to go deep in the game.
Freeland went toe-to-toe with Smyly through the first four innings. The Giants offense was unable to scratch across any runs after the Slater homer.
After the game, Smyly discussed pitching in these important games, and the excitement of the playoff push:
“Very energized. We all know these games matter, these games count. We have to try and go out and win every game. For me, it’s every inning matters, every pitch matters. I think everybody is extremely focused, and when we took the lead late in the game, everybody feels it. These games matter, and today was a great win.”
The Giants added on in the bottom of the fifth inning. Daniel Robertson singled, followed by a Bart double, scoring Robertson from first.
Smyly’s effectiveness started to wear off in the top of the sixth inning. A walk to Pillar that led to a stolen base, was followed by a single from Trevor Story.
With runners at first and third with nobody out, a double play ball recorded just one out at second, scoring the runner from third. The Rockies were on the board, and Smyly’s night was finished.
Kapler discussed Smyly’s outing:
“I thought Drew [Smyly] came out and set the tone, even though the first inning wasn’t easy. He demonstrated that he had good stuff right from the start. He continued to show that good velocity on his fastball. Not his best curveball location early on, but continued to throw it and got a better feel for it as the game moved on. It was certainly a boost to the club to see him come out like that for us.”
Trevor Cahill replaced Smyly. He walked a batter but escaped without allowing another run. The Giants held on to a 2-1 lead.
Unfortunately for the Giants, the Rockies had other plans. Pillar doubled down the left field line, scoring Tapia from first. This game was tied 2-2.
Dickerson wasn’t pleased with a tie game. He led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a solo home run to straightaway center field.
Bart followed the home run with his second double of the game. Two batters later, Slater reached on an infield single down the third base line. Runners at first and third with one out.
Insurance runs a-plenty! Belt lined a double over the head of Pillar in center, scoring two more runs. The Giants added three runs, now leading 5-2.
Tony Watson came in and pitched a clean top of the eighth inning, allowing just a base hit.
In the bottom of the eighth, Mauricio Dubon singled and Dickerson walked to give the Giants first and second with no outs. What ended up being a bases-loaded, two-out rally ended with a fly ball to right to end the threat.
Sam Coonrod came on for the save in the top of the ninth inning with a three-run lead.
An over-powering 1-2-3 ninth inning sealed the win for the Giants, who climbed back to .500.
The Philadelphia Phillies (27-29) lost both games of a doubleheader Tuesday. The Miami Marlins (28-27) also lost, but both the Milwaukee Brewers (27-27) and St. Louis Cardinals (27-25) won, which meant the Giants are tied with the Brewers for the eighth and final playoff spot.
There is quite the log jam for the final playoff spots, and it looks like it’ll be changing daily throughout the rest of the week.