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Giants down Dodgers, win fifth straight

Brandon Belt hit a dinger, and Ty Blach pitched seven strong innings.

MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

I regret to inform you that you are not allowed to change your underwear. There is no appeals process. If you tried to stretch your last pair on laundry day, I understand, but there are no exceptions. The Giants have won five games in a row, and your help is not optional.

The last time the Giants won at least five in a row was 11 months ago. Matt Moore was on the Rays, and he hit Joe Panik in the head with a fastball. Panik responded by hitting a game-winning three-run homer, possibly because he thought he was the King of Denmark. Albert Suarez was in the rotation, and it seemed normal. Everyone was happy about baseball life.

It’s been weird since then, but the Giants have another five-game winning streak. This one involves the Dodgers, which is good for some bonus points. While a winning streak is always welcome, this one is especially well timed because of where the Giants were last week. They were 12-24. You don’t need a calculator to figure out that winning percentage. It’s .33333333 and the threes just keep going until they wrap around your spirit like a big ol’ vine. There isn’t any way to spin 12-24 as anything other than what it is.

I can spin 17-24, though. I was always quick to point out how the Giants were off to their worst start in (x) years, and it’s still not a good start, but you know what? They’re ahead of the 100-loss 1985 Giants now. They’re right with the 1982 Giants, who made the season exciting. They’re right with the 2004 Giants, who made the season exciting. I don’t know if we should get our expectations up for a thrilling postseason run just yet, but I’m willing to settle for caring about baseball again.

Ty Blach can help me care about baseball again. For the first time this season, the Giants got a win from their #1 spot in the rotation. There’s a Yamaha-sized asterisk in there, but the general point stands.

I’d almost suggest that Blach is rocking the Kirk Rueter strikeout-to-walk ratio, except Woody did a lot more bat-missing when he was Blach’s age. That, and Blach could throw two fastballs by the time Rueter got one to the plate. The parallels are obvious, though: Pitch to contact. Trust the defense. Command the strike zone.

While Blach was more erratic with his balls and strikes than he usually is, often pitching from behind in the count, he gave the Giants seven solid innings, and he got stronger as the game went on. His best inning might have been the 1-2-3 seventh, when Bruce Bochy was clearly testing him.

The line on Blach so far is the same as the line on Cain: If this is your fifth starter, there are probably other things to complain about. It doesn’t help that Blach is filling in for the god-tier ace, no, but a game like this will help you forget.

The best part is that Blach seems specifically engineered to disassemble the Dodgers. If he can make that a part of his #brand, he’ll stick around a long, long time.

Brandon Belt hit a dinger. Then he scored the winning run. The next time he goes 0-for-4, I will not mention it, for I am an arm of the propaganda mill of the Beltists. When he does well, I will use my words to paint a solemn, respectful portrait of him. Fight the fascists on the other side with me, I urge you.

The dinger was important because it was the ninth-straight game in which they’ve homered. They made it to 10 straight games last year, but it’s already longer than any streak they’ve had in 2015, 2012, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2004 ... heck, even the 100-win 2003 Giants — a team with BARRY BONDS IN HIS PRIME — didn’t have a dinger streak as long as this.

The cynics among you might point out that of the last 15 homers the Giants have hit, that 14 of them have been solo homers, to which I respond ... holy crap, really?

But that’s not the supreme takeaway, here. The Giants are hitting home runs again, and even if I’m pretty sure the franchise record (19 games, 1947) is safe, eventually the two- and three-run homers will be here soon. Any day. Aaaaany day now.

One of the hidden secrets of the 2017 Giants season is that Christian Arroyo hasn’t been very good at hitting baseballs. He had the thrilling homers soon after his arrival, and he’ll slap a double into the game at the right time. But he’s hitting .220/.278/.354 after Tuesday night, which is about a homer or two above what got Casey McGehee released in 2015.

I raised a lot of concerns last month, before Arroyo was brought up, and most of them still apply. He’s young. He’s raw. He’s not a bird, a plane, or the savior of the 2017 Giants.

But, damn, can he play some defense.

He’s solid at third, of course, and we’ve seen that repeatedly, but he’s also making plays at second in Joe Panik’s stead, keeping the Giants ahead with a one-out throw to cut a runner down at home, and diving to rob a sure single in the top of the seventh. My handwritten note for this recap read thusly:

Spend some time on Joe Panik’s defense

Except, hold on, that wasn’t the Gold Glove second baseman. It was his understudy for the night. And it turns out that a year after the Giants looked like they were set with Gold Glove nominees at every infield position for the next few years, they might be in that spot again.

Arroyo isn’t hitting a lick, but he’s keeping his head above water when it comes to the nerd stats. That’s because he can field. It might seem like a minor distinction, but it isn’t. This will afford the Giants way more patience than they otherwise might have had.

The Giants are the hottest team in the National League. They’re not the hottest team in the majors because the Rangers have won seven straight, moving from 13-20 to 20-20 in a week.

I think some sort of gentleman’s agreement for a 2010 rematch is in order. The stories write themselves. All of the other teams can buzz off. We’ve earned this.

Derek Law came into a one-run game and retired the side on nine pitches.

I’m not sure how to handle this information, so this recap is over.