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Giants experiment with ‘opener,’ climb above .500 with second-straight win

Another day presents another opportunity to fight for a playoff spot.

The Giants adopted a popular modern-age baseball tactic, using an “opener” to begin Wednesday night’s game before riding their bullpen to a 7-2 victory.

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Offensive performances from Mauricio Dubon (1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI), Alex Dickerson (3-for-5, 2 2B), Brandon Belt (3-for-3, 2 BBs, RBI) allowed Giants relievers to pitch stress-free the remainder of the game.

Splitting the first two games of this four-game series against the Colorado Rockies, the San Francisco Giants (28-27) had an opportunity to climb back above .500 Wednesday night.

Giants reliever Caleb Baragar got the starting nod as the opener. He opposed Rockies righty, Ryan Castellani (L, 1-4, 5.82 ERA).

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.

Baragar came out and pitched a quick 1-2-3 top of the first inning. The Giants put a couple of runners on base after a single from Dickerson and a walk to Belt. No runs came around to score.

Giants manager Gabe Kapler discussed the advantage the Giants held with the opener, and how it ended up benefiting their middle reliever:

“I think the most compelling advantage is just avoiding the difficulty of the first three or four hitters in their lineup as the starting point for Logan [Webb]. The top of their lineup is super challenging hitters to get out. One compelling reasons would be to get Logan off to a good start by having him face hitters that are good, but not the caliber of the [Trevor] Story’s and the Charlie [Blackmon]’s.”

Baragar truly was just an opener Wednesday night. Logan Webb replaced him in the top of the second inning. Webb (W, 3-4, 5.50 ERA) would act as the bulk innings reliever out of the bullpen.

The Rockies scored first in the third inning. Raimel Tapia singled with one out, coming around to score on a base hit from Trevor Story, scoring Tapia from second.

With two outs in the bottom of the third, Donovan Solano and Belt both singled to give the Giants runners at first and third before the rally ended without a run.

Evan Longoria tied the game at one with a solo home run over the centerfield wall.

Webb ran into trouble in the top of the fifth inning. Garrett Hampson singled with one out, followed by a double from Tapia, scoring Hampson from first. The Rockies now led 2-1.

Webb talked about coming out of the bullpen, and the fun he had doing it:

“I can’t remember the last time i came in with somebody on base. It was kind of cool, it was fun out there. I don’t know if that changed the game-plan or my mindset. It was my first time experiencing that, and it was cool. I was happy I was able to do that today.”

Dickerson who has swung a hot bat as of late doubled down the right field line. Three batters later, Brandon Crawford scored Dickerson from third on a sac fly to center. The Giants tie the game at 2-2.

Walks to Belt and Longoria put two runners on for Dubon, who gave the Giants a 5-2 lead on a three-run homer to left, his third on the season.

Dubon discussed his huge home run after the win Wednesday:

“Seeing that ball go out was a huge relief. It felt pretty good. It’s part of the process, I’ve been talking to a lot of teammates. Belt most of all. He keeps telling me, ‘just keep doing what you’re doing, it’s going to pay off eventually.'”

Webb settled in nicely in relief of Baragar. He completed five innings, allowing just the two runs, while working in and out of trouble. He did what the Giants needed him to do.

Kapler discussed Webb’s outing:

“I think it did a lot for his mindset. I think after [Caleb] Baragar set the tone for us by pounding the strike zone…Logan was able to see how important it was to attack the strike zone. That wasn’t by design, but it may have had an impact. Logan was in the zone more than he has been, he was comfortable inducing contact, and some of that contact was hard, that’s okay. Good pitchers are going to fill the strike zone up, and that’s going to come with a line drive here or a hard groundball there. What allowed him to be efficient was his willingness to live with that contact.”

He was replaced by Tyler Rogers in the top of the seventh inning after allowing a one out single. Rogers gave up another hit, but escaped unscathed.

Tony Watson replaced Rogers in the top of the eighth inning, retiring the Rockies in order.

The Giants added on another run in the bottom of the eighth. Joey Bart tripled on a line drive to right center that rolled to the wall. Steven Duggar followed with a shallow single to left, scoring Bart from third.

With one out, Dickerson doubled down the left field line, giving the Giants runners at second and third.

A force out at home set up an RBI single from Belt, scoring Dickerson from third. The Giants now had a 7-2 lead heading into the ninth inning.

Sam Selman took care of business in the top of the ninth inning, The Rockies went down in order, and the Giants claimed their second straight win.

Playoff picture

Losses by the Milwaukee Brewers (27-28), St. Louis Cardinals (27-26) and Miami Marlins (28-28) mean the Giants, for now, stand alone in the final wild card spot, with Cincinnati above them in the wild card by virtue of the first tie-breaker, record within their own division. The Philadelphia Phillies (28-29) and Cincinnati Reds (29-28) both won.

All six of these teams that are battling it out for the final four spots are all separated by no more than two games. It’s sure to be a wild finish.

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