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Giants win eighth straight, sweep Rays

Jake Peavy matched Jake Odorizzi inning for inning, and the Giants broke the game open in the eighth inning against the Rays' bullpen.

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

For the last two days, I’ve been in the middle of the Santa Cruz Mountains, where I fed several hundred mosquitoes and acquired a medium-thick layer of film. There was no wi-fi, no phone coverage, so I was without updates and final scores. When I got back within range, just before the start of Sunday’s game, I discovered that the Giants had been playing brilliantly.

About five minutes later, Jake Peavy allowed two hits, hit a batter, and made a run-scoring error. If memory serves, it was on the same play, which I don’t remember how that can be possible, but I’m pretty sure about that. Then Brandon Belt dropped a ball for good measure. The Giants were down, Peavy was shaky, and, say, you can’t win them all. The only reason I didn’t turn right back around was because I had mushrooms growing behind my ears and smelled like a car driving with the emergency brake on.

But I considered it. I’m not a superstitious man, other than all of the superstitions I believe in, but the Giants always do extremely well when I’m on vacation. There was no way the Giants were going to embrace the sweep and win their eighth straight. I could have prewritten this on Thursday night.

The Giants did not avoid the sweep. They did win their eighth straight game. This team just might be really, really good.

This is the second eight-game winning streak of the year, with the last one ending on May 19. If the Giants are good for an eight-game winning streak every month, that just might help their postseason chances. The last time they had two winning streaks this long was in 2000, when they finished the season with the best record in baseball.

Are they going to finish this season with the best record in baseball? No, probably not, except look at all the things the Giants are doing right. Jake Peavy was supposed to be a predictable pitcher, often grinding through six innings of swell-to-fair baseball, no more or less, and that was going to be fine for a team built around its lineup. Except the lineup was sluggish, and Peavy was grinding through two or three innings of appalling-to-wretched baseball every fifth day instead. It was a miserable combination, and I was pretty sure the story didn’t have a happy ending.

Over his last seven starts, though: 38⅓ innings and 28 strikeouts, with a 2.82 ERA. There’s been only one blowup of a start in that stretch. Now, I’m cherry-picking the beginning of that stretch, of course, to exclude a blowup just before it. It might not be the most predictive stretch of Peavy’s season, considering he faced struggling offenses like the Braves, Padres, and Dodgers, and we still shouldn’t get used to the idea of him being a fount of quality starts. But if you’re wondering why you stopped flinching whenever you turned on a Peavy start, that’s why. He’s been on a roll for a while.

Jake Peavy really likes your dad, you know. He thinks you should give your dad a call.

* * *

The last time the Giants were under .500 was against the Blue Jays in May, when J.A. Happ took their wallets and hung them off a flagpole by their underwear. Since then: 26-8.

For perspective, that’s how the Cubs started their season. But because that was an easily identifiable starting point, we were treated to articles about how the Cubs just might be the best team of their generation, a 2001 Mariners with even more talent. The Giants snuck the stretch in the middle of May and June, though, so it gets to be our little secret.

* * *

Brandon Belt gonna be an All-Star:

I’ve zaprudered the video, watching it about 20 times now, and I still can’t tell if it hits the back wall. Regardless, that’s five homers in June already, which ties his home run total through 52 games to start the season.

It’s about time to ask ourselves how many millions the Giants saved themselves with their prescient extension before the season, but it’s also worth wondering if Belt would be hitting like this if he hadn’t removed all doubt about his long-term future with the organization. Either way, he’s a multimillionaire and the Giants are likely to have an All-Star first baseman for the first time in almost a quarter-century, so everybody wins! Especially the Giants.

* * *

Oh, that’s pretty c

Dammit, Baggarly.

* * *

There were seven plate appearances by Giants left-handed hitters against a Rays left-handed reliever. Here’s how they went:

  • Single
  • Sacrifice
  • Single
  • Walk
  • Walk
  • Walk
  • Double play

The last one wasn’t so hot, no, but when the lineups came out, it was reasonable to wonder if the Giants were setting themselves up for failure in the later innings, when the Rays would have a chance to plop down a lefty-reliever from Gregor Blanco at the bottom of the order through Brandon Belt in the cleanup spot. If there’s an area where the Giants miss Hunter Pence the most, that’s it.

Instead, the Giants reminded us that they’re mostly platoon-proof. Span and Panik aren’t affected much at all, and Belt has even been a little better against lefties this year. Only Brandon Crawford has struggled mightily against them, and that’s probably a fluke.

I don’t remember watching a lefty-heavy team like this, where the ones susceptible to a good LOOGYing are the exception, not the rule. It’s a good thing, too, considering the makeup of the second-place team’s rotation.

That would be the Dodgers, by the way. The Dodgers are the team in second place right now. Also the Giants have won eight straight games, while the Dodgers have not.

They’re losing right now.

Hold a good thought.