The old - and by old I mean pre-June 1 - San Francisco Giants couldn’t overcome adversity. They didn’t know what to do when confronted with the cold, hard face of a game opponent that wasn’t willing to roll over and play dead.
Those Giants won some games, as all bad teams do. But they won games with no margin for error. They won games when their offense clicked, their pitching clicked, the ball bounced their way - metaphorically and literally - and their opponent took the day off.
For those Giants, an evaporating lead was a death sentence. Jump out to a 3-0 lead? Great, they might win. Give up those three runs? Nope. Hit the showers. Call it. You ain’t winning.
The new Giants aren’t fazed by the basic obstacles of your standard baseball game.
Wednesday’s 11-8 victory over the Colorado Rockies - a victory that gave the Giants a four-game sweep in the Mile High City for the first time in nearly eight years - put that on display.
San Francisco jumped out to a 3-0 first inning lead, thanks in part to a two-run double from Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval’s liner down the first base line was the first hit he’s had that made it out of the infield since the All-Star break (it was also his only hit of the day, but he had two hard-hit outs, and a walk).
They slowly gave the runs back, and then some, as Coors Field was a bit too much for Shaun Anderson to dominate. A two-run second inning cut the lead to one, and a fourth inning two-run opposite field dinger (helped by the very generous Denver air) by Ryan McMahon gave the Rockies the lead.
The Giants were unfazed, and Stephen Vogt took the lead right back the next half inning, with a two-run shot of his own.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Rockies tied the game, but, again, the Giants handled the bump in the road with aplomb, which I’m still not used to. Donovan Solano opened the sixth with a solo shot to retake the lead.
On that, the third attempt of the evening, the lead finally stuck. The Giants wisely added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, which made it not matter when the Rockies put up a trio of runs in the ninth for the second straight day, this time off Andrew Suarez.
As long as the Giants keep winning, we need to keep discussing just how much they’re winning.
They’ve now won 12 of their last 14 games (a stretch that features 10 road games), outscoring their opponents by 57 runs in the process. They’ve eclipsed five runs in 10 of those 14 games, and 10 runs in six of them.
If 8.6% of the season isn’t enough for you, we can make the sample size bigger. They’ve won 19 of their last 30. They’re 24-15 since June 1. Even if you cut the season thus far down the middle, they’re four games above .500 in the second half - and their current personnel resembles the the second-half squad a lot more than the first-half one.
They’ve been a good baseball team - not a serviceable baseball team, but a good one - for a significant time now. Long enough to prove that they’re good, overall? Maybe not. But long enough to spend a good amount of time considering the notion.
One of the beautiful things about this run is that the contributions are coming from everywhere. This isn’t the case of unsustainably good starting pitching carrying the team to victory every night, or one hitter going ballistic for a week.
Every day it’s someone new who is having the type of game that keeps you glued to the television. Solano was 4-5, adding two doubles to go with his home run. Vogt supported his dinger with a walk and a double. In total, six Giants had multi-hit days, including a three-hit day by Brandon Belt.
Sure, Austin Slater and Alex Dickerson will cool down one day. But over the last few weeks, the team has proved that they can deal with a hitter or two cooling down, because it will likely correspond with a hitter or two heating up.
That’s how the good teams do it.
It showed that this was the fourth game in three days at the livest park in MLB history. A total of 10 runs had been scored before either starting pitcher left the game. When Anderson was finally yanked, in favor of Derek Holland, Holland stayed in for a sixth inning at-bat in a one-run game.
You don’t see a reliever taking an at-bat in the sixth inning of a one-run game every day, but the situation warranted it.
Holland - who previously only entered games when the outcome had long been determined - had another nice outing. He pitched 1.2 innings, and allowed no baserunners. It was Holland’s fourth straight scoreless outing - in that time, he’s pitched 5.2 innings, and given up two hits and three walks while striking out six.
The Giants now return home, after going 6-1 on the road trip. They’re 2.5 games out of the wild card, with four teams ahead of them.
At the very least, this is a helluva lot of fun.