On a night of sharp starting pitching from Alex Wood – and barely any offense despite big scoring chances – the Giants topped Arizona 1-0 thanks to a seventh-inning Kris Bryant sacrifice fly at Oracle Park on Wednesday evening.
With win No. 104, the 2021 Giants (104-54) break the San Francisco record for the most wins in a single season, surpassing their 103 wins in 1993 and 1962. Looking back to New York, this year’s squad trails only the 1904 (105 wins) and 1905 Giants (106 wins) for single-season wins.
And, for the first time since 1913, the Giants are 50 games over .500, heading into the final four games of the regular season with a five-game winning streak and a magic number of three to clinch the division.
The final regular-season start for Wood (11-4, 3.83 ERA) featured some of his best stuff of the season, allowing just three hits in six innings A usual fast worker, the left-hander was especially efficient, mowing down six behind just 74 pitches.
Wood finished the night with an exceptional defensive play, fielding a slow tapper from Carson Kelly and quickly throwing to first for the out, generating a fist pump and a few yells as he walked off the mound.
After a rough battle with Covid-19 that cost him the first half of September, Wood has reminded fans of his value, especially when his fastball has strong two-seam action to go along with a wipeout slider. Since coming off the injured list Sept. 18, Wood been excellent in three starts, combining for 13 innings, 17 strikeouts, and zero walks.
The Giants defense behind him turned three double plays, which proved to be crucial.
As October baseball approaches, the Giants will surely turn to Wood to provide quality innings in whatever role he’s placed. In any event, Wood should be fully rested for a possible NLDS start. With the Dodgers during their 2020 World Series run, Wood provided key innings in relief and flourished, eventually using that performance to sign a one-year, $3 million offseason deal with the Giants.
On Wood’s outing, Bryant said:
“I just love how quick he works and (how he throws) first pitch strikes. He just gets the ball and goes, and that really helps out the defense and it really helps out the offense too. There really are innings when you’re out in the field for a long time. I mean, you kind of get stiff standing out there. So I appreciate that out of him.”
Young Giants flamethrower Camilo Doval (SV, 5-1, 0.00 ERA) recorded a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save in as many days, and appears to be a lock to be a member of the postseason roster. Prior to the game, Kapler stated that it’s “reasonable to say he’s earned trust” over the last month, hence why he’s been tested a lot more in high leverage situations.
On his ability to make adjustments, Doval said:
“Basically when I went down to Sacramento I worked on everything that I needed to work on. I worked on my slider and now I have to control the slider or if I want to throw it for strikes, I can do that. if I want to throw it for a ball. I can do that.”
Dominic Leone (W, 4-5, 1.59 ERA) was credited with the win, tying the Giants bullpen for most bullpen victories in month, set back in May by this year’s Tampa Bay Rays.
A plethora of missed scoring opportunities in the first six innings finally caught up to the Giants offense in the seventh. Tommy La Stella emerged from the bench to rip a pinch-hit single and was replaced by the much faster Steven Duggar. From there, they turned on the heat and played small ball. Duggar stole second, LaMonte Wade Jr. laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Bryant took a fastball to right field, just deep enough to score Duggar from third with a headfirst slide to make it 1-0.
On the different style of baseball, Bryant said:
“Honestly, that’s kind of more of what you see in the postseason. Obviously there’s big homers and stuff, but usually the teams that you know win it all do little things right. It was kind of drawn up perfectly in terms of LaMonte bunting him (Duggar) over and me just working an at-bat and hitting lazy fly ball does the job.”
San Francisco had runners in scoring position in each of the first three innings but couldn’t cash in against Arizona right-hander Merrill Kelly. The Giants loaded the bases in the third, but Kelly’s 70th pitch of the night was a paint pellet on the outside corner to fan Mike Yastrzemski. Through the first three, they left seven runners on base.
The Giants drew four walks and just three hits against Kelly (L, 7-12, 4.44 ERA) but continually failed to make hard contact and drive in runs. Buster Posey contributed to both those causes by walking twice and grounding singles up the middle in the fifth and seventh.
The Giants are now one of three teams in baseball history to record at least 103 wins in a season after finishing below .500 the previous season. The other two – the 1945-46 Boston Red Sox and the 1992-93 Giants –– both made big-time additions before the season. For the Red Sox, they received Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio back from World War II service. After the 1992 season, the Giants brought in free agent outfielder Barry Bonds to bolster their offense. Williams and Bonds each won MVP awards in their standout, turnaround seasons.
On the milestone win, Wood said:
“So hopefully, the fun is just beginning now. So hopefully we can close this thing out this weekend and get ready for the postseason because it’s the best time of the year.”
Tuesday – Giants 6, Diamondbacks 4: For just the third time since moving west to San Francisco in 1958, the Giants reached the 103 win mark. Riding patience and station-to-station baseball, the San Francisco offense was on a mission to continually work the pitch count of every Arizona pitcher they faced. They scored four runs in the sixth thanks to a pinch-hit single by Wilmer Flores to knock in a run, a bases-loaded walk from Posey, an RBI single from Brandon Crawford, and a wild pitch. It was 6-2 heading into the eighth when Kole Calhoun singled in a run and David Peralta ripped a sacrifice fly to put the snakes within two. Logan Webb (W, 10-3, 2.93) turned in another strong performance – even without his best command – by turning in five innings without allowing an earned run.
The Giants finish off the series agains the Diamondbacks on Thursday evening. Kapler announced before Wednesday’s game that veteran lefty Scott Kazmir (0-1, 4.09 ERA) will be on the mound for the orange and black in hopes he eats up some innings in his final start of the season. Kapler mentioned the 37-year-old’s encouraging bite on his changeup and resurgent velocity. San Francisco fans will welcome back D-Backs starter Madison Bumgarner (7-10, 4.58 ERA) back to Oracle Park for his first outing against his old team in front of his former fans. First pitch is 6:45 p.m.
Tommy La Stella is feeling better after enduring some soreness on his achilies. … Left-hander Jake McGee threw a bullpen on Wednesday and will be reassessed on Friday as he recovers from a right oblique strain. … Johnny Cueto (elbow) could be activated this weekend and his likely role is out of the bullpen. Kapler says that doesn’t rule out the possibility of Cueto starting a game, but an appearance as a reliever is more apparent. … Darin Ruf (oblique) is on track to be activated before Thursday’s game. … Kapler said that there is a “very good chance” Posey starts behind the plate tomorrow to face off against his old battery-mate Bumgarner. The two haven’t faced each other since Bumgarner signed a five-year, $85 million deal with Arizona before the 2020 season.