SAN FRANCISCO – With one bad week, the Giants went from having the fourth-best record in the National League to dropping out of a playoff spot altogether.
The Giants likely aren’t going to be concerned about such things right now. But if they hope to keep pace with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres in the National League West, they’ll need to take care of business against MLB’s also-rans.
Saturday, Evan Longoria, Thairo Estrada, Joc Pederson, and Wilmer Flores all hit home runs and starter Logan Webb lasted six innings to lead the Giants to a 9-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds, the NL’s worst team, before a sellout crowd of 40,115 at Oracle Park.
Darin Ruf and Tommy La Stella also drove in runs as the Giants won for just the second time in the last seven games and moved to within 5 1/2 games of the first-place Dodgers. San Francisco (39-32) was just three games back of Los Angeles a week ago.
“I think trying to look at the standings … can get exhausting,” said Webb, who struck out six and allowed just two hits. “That’s something that we did last year, and we were the ones that were actually ahead. It was exhausting for us then.
“It’s more about us just being there every day, trying to take it day by day. We have a very good team and we know that.”
Flores’ three-run homer gave the Giants a 9-1 lead in the sixth, a rare laugher for a team that had played 10 straight games decided by two runs or less.
“I thought (Flores’) home run was sort of the blow that we’ve been waiting for,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “We’ve talked about one more really good at-bat in a game to make the difference. We’ve also talked about how big innings win baseball games for us. They have for quite some time.”
Flores now has a team-leading 40 RBIs this season and is on pace to set a new career-high.
Flores had 53 RBIs in 139 games last season, and his career-high is 59, set in 2015 when he was with the New York Mets.
Is it surprising that Flores now leads the Giants in runs batted in? Not to Kapler.
“He’s just a really good quality at-bat, very consistently, over a long period of time,” he said. “With runners on base, runners not on base, he can be a lead-off and find his way on base. He drives the baseball in the air to the pull side, and that turns into driving in runs.
“He uses the whole field, and that allows him to handle a lot of different pitches from a lot of different angles. So definitely not a surprise.”
San Francisco won seven of eight games and improved to 37-27 with a 7-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 18.
Since then, the Giants lost the series finale with the Pirates at PNC Park, lost three of four games in Atlanta against the Braves, and dropped the series opener with the Reds on Friday.
The Giants finish the series with the Reds on Sunday and next week, face the Detroit Tigers (27-43) for two games and the Chicago White Sox (33-37) for three.
“That’s the team that we are,” Webb said of Saturday’s outing. “That’s the team we expect to show up every single night. Sometimes you go through a rough patch. Unfortunately, it’s just lasted a little longer than we hoped.”
Webb threw 97 pitches as he improved to 7-2 this season, perhaps burnishing his credentials for a spot on the NL All-Star Team for the Midsummer Classic next month at Dodger Stadium.
“If Logan keeps pitching like this,” Kapler said, “it’s going to be hard to deny him as well.”
“Obviously, it’d be an honor. But we’ll see,” Webb said. “I wouldn’t mind the three days in Lake Tahoe, either.”
In the fourth inning, the Reds (24-47) had runners on first and third with one out, but Webb got Albert Almora Jr. to ground into a comebacker, as Webb began a 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Before the play, catcher Austin Wynns and Longoria both visited Webb on the mound, as home plate umpire Bill Welke’s strike zone appeared to be a source of consternation for both teams Saturday.
“I was frustrated with something out there and (Wynns and Longoria) actually came up to me and said like, ‘Hey, don’t let that bother you. Let’s get a ground ball,’ and we did,” Webb said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism