SAN FRANCISCO — Juan Uribe was in the visiting dugout last week when Tim Hudson, Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner led the Giants to three straight shutouts over the Dodgers. A trade later, Uribe was in the lineup when Chris Heston paced a shutout of the Braves.
Uribe was around for some light-hitting stretches at AT&T Park in 2009 and 2010, but even he likely thinks this is taking it to an absurd level.
The Giants, after a 7-0 blanking of the Braves on Thursday, have eight shutouts in their last 12 home games. Thursday’s came on the right arm of Heston, who joined the other four starters, all of whom have at least one shutout during this streak that started May 3. Heston extended the Giants’ streak to 37 consecutive shutout innings at home.
[Instant Replay: Giants score six in eighth, shut out Braves]
“I didn’t even realize we had a streak like that going,” he said. “I’m just trying to put up as many zeroes as possible.”
He got seven full zeroes Thursday while pitching into the eighth, and in doing so, Heston held on a little tighter to a rotation spot that may be up for grabs due to circumstances out of his control. Heston has been a revelation for the Giants, posting a 3.82 ERA and saving a staff that had no other options. But even though he’s a rookie, he’s experienced enough to look around a room.
Jake Peavy is on a rehab assignment and could be back in two weeks. Matt Cain is throwing bullpen sessions and could return soon after the All-Star break. If the Giants have to shed a starter, Heston is the only one with minor league options, but he has managed to push the situation out of his mind.
“You try not to let that stuff creep into your mind, as hard as it is,” he said. “I mean, these guys are good. You try not to think about how it affects you. These guys are so good and any time they’re coming back, that’s huge for the team. I go out there when my name is called and give it my all.”
Instead of worrying about his spot, Heston has focused on soaking up knowledge. He said he spends as much time as he can with Tim Hudson, who also relies on sinking the ball down in the zone and mixing it up. Hudson on Friday will try to duplicate something Heston has done as well as any veteran: Bounce back.
When Heston gave up six runs to the Rockies on April 24, he responded by allowing just one his next time out. After giving up five runs to the Padres on May 6, he pitched a complete game in Houston six days later. Heston allowed 11 runs in his two starts before Thursday’s, but he matched Shelby Miller zero for zero on a chilly night, allowing just four hits and striking out six.
“It’s big for your confidence to be able to go out there and rebound with a good one,” he said.
It also helps when you know that the flood is coming at some point. On Thursday it came in the eighth, when the Giants added six runs to a one-run lead and rocketed the ball all over the spacious park. Given the way the staff is going, they probably didn’t need the insurance, but manager Bruce Bochy was happy to take it and give his closer a night off.
“Right now,” he said. “We’re getting contributions from throughout the lineup.”
It started with Brandon Belt, who crushed his sixth homer in 13 games. Bochy liked the look of this one, and not just because it was the first to come at home. Belt went the opposite way and hit a high, majestic bomb on a pitch that came in at 96 mph.
“He’s strong,” Bochy said. “It says a lot about his power. A couple of homers he hit on the road, he just crushed. He’s a big strong guy. He can go out the opposite way here and he needs to realize it.”
Belt said he does, and he’d like to do it more often. The easiest way to beat a shift is to hit blasts the other way.
“That was kind of the plan coming into the season,” he said. “It’s what I’ve been successful at in the past. That’s part of it, going the other way and hitting those gaps.”
The Giants peppered them in an eighth inning that seemed to last as long as the previous seven. Joe Panik had a two-run double. Hunter Pence had a two-run triple. The blowout was on. So was the shutout.
“They’re putting some serious runs on the board,” Heston said. “It’s a lot of fun to watch.”
--- The Junior Giants are holding a Glove Drive this Saturday when the Giants host the Braves for a 7:05 p.m. game. Fans who donate a new or gently used glove or make a $10 donation will receive a 2014 World Champions pin or a Madison Bumgarner MVP pin. Donations can be made at all gates before the game, or inside the park at the Community Clubhouse on the Promenade Level.