AT&T PARK — Solid defense, timely hitting and reliable pitching.
It’s been the formula for the San Francisco Giants over the last seven years, the franchise’s most successful span by far. And for two games in a row at least, it’s been working in the second half of an otherwise dreadful 2017 campaign.
Maybe that’s why Matt Cain said the front office has expressed some degree of confidence in the current group.
“We believe we can win,” he said after the Giants’ 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday. “The guys upstairs believe we can win. I think they want us all to stay together. They’ve communicated that to us. I think we’ve got to do a good job of, even though we’re in a bad spot, of making something great out of the year.”
Naturally, with talk that big, it was Buster Posey who played the pivotal role in the team’s second-straight late-inning victory over the reigning American League champions.
Cain made his first start days after being demoted to the bullpen and like most of his outings at home this season, it wasn’t bad.
The 32-year old needed just 79 pitches to complete six innings and a quality start. Cain has now given up three or fewer earned runs in all but one of his nine starts at AT&T Park this season.
All of the damage he allowed came in the third, when he allowed back-to-back one-out walks to Cleveland starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco and leadoff hitter Bradley Zimmer. Michael Brantley and Jose Ramirez knocked consecutive singles into right field to give the Indians a 3-1 advantage.
“Really beside that inning, he located well, had good stuff, the ball was moving well,” manager Bruce Bochy said of his starter. “Just got away from him, his delivery there for three or four hitters.”
Denard Span chipped away at the deficit with a one-out solo home run in the bottom of the fifth. The center fielder turned on a low and inside slider from Carrasco and redirected it into McCovey Cove for the Giants’ 75th splash hit.
The Cleveland bullpen failed to log a shutdown inning after adding an insurance run, though. Boone Logan started the frame, but had to leave after abruptly grabbing at his right foot following a walk to Brandon Belt. Brandon Crawford took advantage of Bryan Shaw, a righty who was thrusted into action early, by hitting a single. Then, a groundball through the legs of Santana allowed the Giants first baseman to score.
Buster Posey was called upon as a pinch hitter in the eighth with runners on the corners. A single over the head of left fielder Michael Brantley cleared the bases and gave the home team a one-run lead.
“My pinch hitting numbers are not very good, but it’s nice to come through,” Posey said after the game. “There’s definitely somewhat of an art to it.”
Posey improved to 7-for-29 (.241) as a pinch hitter with the at-bat.
Sam Dyson, the Giants’ closer while Mark Melancon remains on the disabled list, worked around a bases-loaded jam to earn his fifth save of the year.
In 16.1 innings in the orange and black, Dyson has allowed five earned runs on 14 hits (no home runs).
With three years of arbitration team control remaining on his contract, there’s reason for Giants fans to get excited for the future. But with the team still 22 games under .500 this season, it really doesn’t matter that Bochy’s group has returned to the original blueprint for a short period of time.
“We’re not far away from getting back to who we are,” Bochy said. “I know we’ve been derailed here. In just a couple tweaking, I think we’ll get back to who we are.”
Winter in July is coming
Bochy greeted the media in the press conference room of AT&T Park seated in a replica of the Iron Throne to promote the Giants’ Game of Thrones Night tonight.
The longtime manager said he was a fan of the show, too, which put him in a precarious situation.
“I know the kings that sit in this chair, they get killed off,” Bochy said. “So, I am a little nervous right now that [CEO] Larry [Baer] wanted me to sit in this chair.”