SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants haven't complained much, publicly or privately, about their string of injuries, and truthfully you could argue that the three National League division leaders have been hit even harder. The Dodgers will be without Hyun-jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy the rest of the year, the Nationals are still without standouts like Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth, and the Cardinals won't play with Adam Wainwright and Matt Adams this season.
But the Giants are finally getting healthy -- and they're taking advantage of it.
Jake Peavy (four starts back from the DL) and Hunter Pence (12 games into a healthy run) led the way as the Giants throttled the A's 9-3 on Friday, continuing their surge up the standings. The Giants remained three games back of the Dodgers in the West and slid back into the second spot in the Wild Card race. Yes, if the season ended today, this team would be headed back to Pittsburgh, with Madison Bumgarner starting a winner-take-all game (You figure the Pirates would be smart enough to start Gerrit Cole this time around).
That worked out well the last time, but the Giants have bigger goals. They have alternated hot streaks with cold through four months, and they're eager to finally put it all together. Nori Aoki is a rehab game or two away from returning, and in the clubhouse, players talk about charging forward with their full squad.
"Just keeping our heads down and not resting on tonight's game," Peavy said. "Show up tomorrow with the same focus ... I think we started to really get healthy. We have the team we envisioned out of spring training and we're starting to figure out who we are as a team."
While the starting staff hasn't fully locked in, the lineup has an identity and it showed Friday. At their best, these Giants are deep and relentless. Eight starters had a hit Friday and the only one held in check was Joe Panik, who leads the team in hits and is chasing 200 for the season. Seven of nine starters scored a run, led by Pence, who had a four-hit night and drove in a run with an early double. It's no coincidence that the Giants are 22-7 when Full Throttle starts.
"He just has so much energy," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But the talent, too. He plays a great right field, he gets base hits, he hits the long ball. He's certainly made us a better club."
Pence, a 2012 deadline addition, has made the lineup deeper since returning from a forearm injury. Peavy, a 2014 deadline addition, has bolstered the rotation. He has pitched into the seventh in each of his four starts since returning from back and hip injuries, and he has a 3.50 ERA during that span. He gave up three runs Friday in six-plus innings.
"He's really pitched well since coming off rehab," Bochy said. "He got healthy. When he's healthy, that's how he can throw the ball ... He pitched his heart out. He had good stuff tonight, he's hitting his spots, and there he is in the seventh again."
Peavy wanted to finish that inning, and he still thinks there's another gear in that arm as he gets further away from the injuries. He cruised through six but gave up a homer to Ben Zobrist to open the seventh. Billy Butler's single ended Peavy's night.
"I've just got to finish it," he said. "I think I've got more in the tank for sure. It just seems like I can't quite push through that last inning. The New York start, the Arizona start was the same. I just made a bad pitch to Zobrist there and Butler's a good hitter. I wasn't going to walk him in that situation."
Peavy didn't make it through the seventh, but he did more than enough to help the Giants win for the ninth time in 10 games.
"You don't want to get too giddy here, but at the same time you have to love the way they're playing," Bochy said. "We're clicking everywhere."
--- George Kontos lost his inherited-runners streak. He was 26 for 26 before Butler came around to score in the seventh. That's a hell of a run; Kontos didn't allow a teammates' runner to score until July 24.
"It's disappointing. I felt I didn't do a good enough job executing pitches there," he said. "It was something I took pride in, and now it's time to start a new streak."