A tough week and a half with three consecutive series losses against the Blue Jays, Mets and Mariners and another lackluster performance against a lackluster team in the series opener had done some damage to progress made in the division and wild card races.
The roster injuries, the rotation struggles, typically resolute bullpen arms like Camilo Doval and the Rogers twins showing some cracks from the recent workload of stressful innings while the offense growing negligent and practically non-existent in early innings—all factors that contributed to bad vibes as we approached the All-Star Break.
I admittedly took to tired metaphor for comfort. The long season, a mountain range worth of peaks and valleys, hitters were spelunking or something, praying that the cave they had dropped into would be a tunnel with a light at some unknown and distant end so have faith!
The long and the short of it—the Giants were playing poorly, and it was frustrating to watch.
The timing of the downturn wasn’t great either.
Ninety games into a season with the draft and trade deadline nearing, questions of identity loom for teams on the cusp. San Francisco fans especially have lived through some recent whiplash. 2023 is a team with two faces: a boom-or-bust, whiff happy offense with a top-heavy rotation in April or a youth-infused, more versatile and resolute team with a solid-and-scrappy pitching corps throughout mid-May and June.
Which one are they? Which stretch was the fluke?
The slump has got latent anxieties resurfacing. Fans are feeling sensitive right now, reactionary and overly excitable. Both wins and losses are capitalized. Each game either a revelation or a sign of end times.
Deep breath, Steven. No reason to be over-the-top: the win certainly wasn’t a resounding statement of any kind, but it felt a little like a reawakening. It was a step in the right direction that could serve the Giants well going into a much needed break.
Can I interest you in an oppo-taco? pic.twitter.com/dF7sPuNX07— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 8, 2023
Colorado’s RHP Connor Seabold had faced San Francisco before on June 7th, throwing 6 scoreless innings in the deepest outing of his career before the Giants chased him in the 7th, eventually pinning him with 2 runs and swiping a 5 - 4 run win in what would become known as “The Bailey Safety Squeeze Game.”
The Giants got to Seabold earlier in this one, scoring in the 1st inning which was a minor miracle considering that it hadn’t occurred in two weeks time. They hit 19 balls in play with an exit velocity clocked at 95+ MPH.
One rookie drives in another pic.twitter.com/qSJ7Uqwn7A— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 8, 2023
Most importantly, after hitting a MLB worse .133 with runners in scoring position since their first game in Toronto, batters went 3-for-6 including a 2-out opposite field home run for Michael Conforto in the 1st, a 2-strike RBI single in the the 4th off the bat of Blake Sabol, and Austin Slater’s pinch hit 2-run home run in the 5th.
Conforto’s opposite field launch was his first since June 8th in the Giants 6-4 win…against Colorado. He went 3-for-4 on the day. Sabol’s RBI was his 34th of the year and is now batting .396 with runners in scoring position. Slater’s blast off lefty reliever Brad Hand was his 7th pinch hit homer of his career.
Alex Wood came on as the bulk reliever after Ryan Walker allowed 2 runs over the first two innings and kept Colorado from tacking on, spreading three hits and 1 walk across 5 scoreless innings. Tyler Rogers pitched the 8th, retiring his newfound nemesis Ezequiel Tovar on a pop-up. But the Rockies capitalized on a defensive miscue by Slater in left that probably should’ve ended the inning (weather excuses be damned!) and sparked a minor 1-run rally.
Rogers got Elias Diaz to pop-up to strand two with the tying run on first. Camilo Doval cruised through the 9th with two strikeouts to secure his 26th save.
MLB-leading 26th save for Camilo pic.twitter.com/lUW92pXPvA— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) July 8, 2023
All 13 position players took hacks at the plate with 9 of them reaching base on a hit or walk. 4 different pitchers toed the rubber. Brandon Crawford exited with hamstring tightness necessitating a late infield shuffle. It’s kind of fun to watch a team roll out a line-change like that—all hands on deck—mixing-and-matching positions in real time to cover an injury. Davis to third, Schmitt to short, Flores over to second. There are no strangers in the dugout, no unfamiliar faces. All that to say, the win was maybe not the most resounding, but it felt cohesive—which is not a descriptor I’d use for this team as of late.
Tonight, anxieties are assuaged, spirits comforted. Ask me how I feel after tomorrow’s game.