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Giants find balance at end of see-saw road trip

San Francisco’s win against Miami ended their 10 game road trip with a 5-5 record.

Thairo Estrada hugs teammate after win against Miami Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The San Francisco Giants evened the series against the Miami Marlins and their 10 game road trip with a 5-1 win powered by Jakob Junis 6 innings of 1 run ball and a Donovan Walton grand slam, his first home run in a Giants uniform.

The slam was a salami for sure. Walton did a little jig out of the box as he watched it land in the stands in right center. The hit came with a sigh of relief for Giants bats who have often struggled on this road trip to come up with a big hit, or even a productive out, in scoring situations.

Walton fell victim to a Braxton Garrett slider in the 2nd with runners on first and third and less than 2 outs. He saw a total of 5 sliders in that at-bat, all sweeping across the strike zone, finding the catcher down and away to a left-handed batter, tagging the pitch chart with a teasing yellow smile.

pitch chart for Donovan Walton’s 5-pitch strike out in the 2nd against Braxton Garrett

Garrett pushed his luck with a sixth slider in the 4th and Walton didn’t miss it. It was Donnie Doubles 9th hit as a Giant and his second non two-bagger. He has 7 RBIs in the past two games.

But the 4-run lead felt fragile and for good reason. The starting pitching has labored through innings. The bullpen hasn’t been much of a stopper in close games. Visions of yesterday’s lead vanishing flashed before my eyes as the Giants loaded the bases in the 5th with no outs, only to come up empty. Jason Vosler grounded into a fielder’s choice. Curt Casali struck out. Walton grounded out to second.

No back breaking big hit. Not even a productive out to pad the lead—and ultimately that’s what belabored relievers need: a cushion to rest their weary heads, an opportunity to reset and take the mound with no stress. Austin Slater was able to provide a minor reprieve in the 8th with his RBI single, but that was about it.

Walton got a huge hit and it turned out to be more than enough today, but there have been plenty of times when these one-off innings of offensive outburst haven’t been enough. It wasn’t yesterday. It wasn’t on Wednesday against Philadelphia. I know not every base runner is going to score—but it would’ve been nice to see this game get blown open early to give the bullpen an opportunity to put their feet up.

I’m going to stop whining about a missed scoring opportunity now—especially since San Francisco’s pitching didn’t need much in terms of runs today.

Jakob Junis did what he always does: throw strikes, eat innings, prevent runners and runs. He’s been one of the most consistent pitchers among this volatile bunch, with a 3-1 record and 2.51 ERA.

Sunday’s start was one of his best outings yet with 6 innings pitched, allowing one run on two hits and striking out a season-high 8 batters.

Dominic Leone followed with a 6-pitch 7th. Tyler Rogers danced with the devil just a tad in the 8th, allowing consecutive two-out singles to Jon Berti and Garrett Cooper before “retiring” (more of a defensive bail-out by Thairo Estrada) slugger Jorge Soler. Camilo Doval pitched a clean 9th after a lead-off double.

The Giants slogged through 10 hot and humid road games and came out even. They’re headed home now and await a three game series against the Colorado Rockies starting on Tuesday.