The Friday Five: Road Warriors Return Home

Panik

AP Photo

The San Francisco Giants are heading home after a 6-1 road trip. They are 47-27, and 6 games up on the Dodgers. The Giants’ 47 wins are tied for the most in baseball with the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers. It’s the third best 74 game start for the Giants in the San Francisco era behind 1993 (50-24! grrr) and 1971 (48-26). That 1971 team had 4 Hall of Famers, including an aging, but effective, Willie Mays.

I can’t stop looking at all these winning numbers. On April 21st, the D-Backs beat the Giants to complete a 4-game sweep and send the Giants 4.5 games behind first place LA. The Giants were 7-10, the low water mark of the season. Since then they have gone 39-17 (.629), the best record in MLB, and gained 10.5 games on the Dodgers. That’s a span of 9 weeks, an average of more than one game gained per week.

The Giants have won 11 of 12 heading in to the weekend. After the great road trip, the Giants are now 25-14 (.641) away from home, the 2nd best win percentage and most wins in baseball. They’re not too shabby at AT&T Park either, sporting a 22-13 (.628) record, which is second in the NL behind the Cubs.

Between today, and the All-Star Break, the Giants only travel once, to Arizona for 3 games next weekend. They don’t play a club that currently has a winning record until July 19th in Boston. There’s a chance for the Giants to keep streaking and try to distance themselves from the rest of the NL West. So let’s look ahead to the weekend and enjoy that 6-1 road trip one more time in this week’s Friday Five.

1) The Philadelphia Phillies (31-43) are coming to town for 3 games this weekend. They just snapped a 9-game losing streak and have lost 13 of their last 15 games. Remember them? The team that the Giants had to get past in 2010 for control of the NL. Back then it was talent vs talent. Now? The Phillies aren’t a very good baseball team and the Giants are among the class organizations in all of baseball. Who knew the Phillies would fall so far, so fast?

There’s still Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz left from those clubs, but they are both relegated to backup and platoon roles. Howard has especially had a tough time, batting only .150 on the season. Seriously. The guy taking over at 1st base for the Phils seems to be Tommy Joseph. Remember him? He was sent as part of the Hunter Pence package back in 2012. Joseph is starting to make noise with Philly, he’s knocked 8 home runs in 114 pate appearances, which projects to over 40 during a full season.

Friday night at 7:15 is Jake Peavy (3-6, 5.47) vs rookie Zach Eflin (0-2, 10.80). In 2 starts this season Eflin has gotten hammered and gave up 3 home runs to Toronto in his debut. Saturday night at 7:05 is Madison Bumgarner (8-3, 1.85) bobblehead night, and he happens to be starting. The Phils send Jeremy Hellickson (4-6, 4.41) to the hill. Sunday’s series finale is a 1:05 matinee as Johnny Cueto (11-1, 2.06) takes on Aaron Nola (5-7, 4.11). The Giants are 13-2 in games Cueto starts this seaon, and 11-4 in Bumgarner starts. I fully expect the Giants to take 2, if not all 3 games from the Phillies.

 

2) How about that road trip? A weekend sweep in St Pete vs the Rays followed by winning 3 of 4 in Pittsburgh. Three things really jumped out at me on this road trip. Joe Panik is clutch, Mac Williamson can hit the ball hard, and the bullpen is suddenly lights out.

When the game is on the line, the batter the Giants want at the plate lately is Joe Panik. He’s hit safely in each of the last 6 games, but only with just 1 hit in each game. Although, they have been some well-timed hits. Last Saturday Panik hit a 3-run homer in the 9th to put the Giants ahead 6-3 against the Rays. Sunday it was a single in the 8th inning to break a 1-1 tie. Wednesday night the Giants fell behind to the Pirates 6-1 early but came back to win 7-6. Panik capped the rally with a 2-run double in the 6th to put the Giants ahead for good. Yesterday, Panik hit a bases clearing triple to give the Giants a lead they would never relinquish. Four different types of hits, right when the Giants needed them.

Mac Williamson is showing some life during this most recent promotion. After not starting at all on the first 5 games of the trip, Mac made his playing time count the last 2 days. During Wednesday’s 7-6 victory, Williamson walked 3 times and was 1-for-2. The base hit was a scorching shot through the left side. Yesterday, Mac hit a 446-foot HR to left center field and drove in a run with a single. He’s been sharing time with Jarrett Parker, but personally I want to see what Mac can do against some right-handed pitching.

Santiago Casilla had a baby and it somehow made the bullpen better. I don’t know what it was, but on this trip they came through. Specifically Derek Law and the aforementioned Casilla. Law was an integral part of the Wednesday comeback. He pitched 2 innings in relief of a shaky Jeff Samardzija. Law didn’t allow a run as the Giants came back. He even pitched through trouble in the 5th after back-to-back base hits to start this inning. And oh yeah, this happened in his hometown in front of family and friends, pretty special.

A for Casilla, he came back from paternity leave a focused man. He picked up a 1-run save on Wednesday and actually had a 2-run cushion for his save Thursday afternoon. His stuff was nasty once again. Maybe it’s the new baby, maybe it was the 8-day rest, I don’t know. I just know he looked a lot better than before this life changing moment.

There’s so many more other guys contributing to the team right now. I’ll explore the Giants depth, yes they actually have some, after the weekend series with Philly.

tim2

3) Didn’t mean to startle you with that picture, it is still taking some getting used to. This is where I check in on an ex-Giant. Well, as long as Tim Lincecum is healthy, I’ll probably catch us up on him here. I should just rename this part “Timmy’s Corner”.

It’s now been 2 starts for Lincecum as a Los Angeles Angel of Anaheim of Orange County of California of the United States of Earth of The Milky Way. He looked pretty good in his debut last Saturday in Oakland going 6 innings, allowing 4 hits, striking out 2, and allowed only 1 run as he earned his first victory since June 16th of last year with the Giants. He looked pretty good as he changed speeds and kept hitters off-balance.

Last night he made his Angels home debut against the same A’s, only lasted 3 innings, and took the loss. Timmy gave up 4 runs in the 2nd inning including a home run. His next start should be Tuesday at home, against the Astros. Let’s hope he fares better.

 

4) Ummmmmmmm. OK?

 

 

5) Links and whatnot from around the interwebs:

If you need a quick hit of the Giants when you wake up I recommend San Francisco Giants Morning Minute over on Golden Gate Sports. This link is for Friday’s edition but you can find it daily at the site.

Sean is also a great follow on Twitter during Giants games if you’re into that sort of thing.

Jake Peavy was swindled out of $15.1 million dollars. That really sucks.

Back to happy, we recorded Episode 107 on Tuesday.

Enjoy the weekend folks! Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook. It’s nice to not be looking at a June Swoon this season as the Giants have already clinched a winning month. Hopefully they finish it out strong.

-Eric

@2outhits

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