For years on Giants Twitter, fans have asked for the same thing: Runs For Vogey, Runs For Huddy, Runs for Timmy, etc. It might be time for a new mantra, one based on protecting the lineup.
Just keep it close.
If the pitching staff keeps a game close, this lineup — more often than not — will find a way to win it. Don’t get knocked out in the fourth inning of a start and you’re in pretty good shape. Don’t twice blow the save and you’re in pretty good shape. Just keep it close — and these hitters will find a way to hammer out a win.
The lineup did it again Tuesday, getting homers from Hunter Pence and Nori Aoki, four hits from Matt Duffy and four runs from Gregor Blanco in a big 8-3 win over the Atlanta Braves. Jake Peavy didn’t come close to letting this one get out of hand, pitching six strong innings. The bullpen briefly faltered but Sergio Romo settled things and Yusmeiro Petit took it home.
“A great win for us,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s a hard-fought game. We had some good at-bats. Duffy had quite a night, Blanco scored four runs, Nori’s homer run, and — of course — Pence came through with the big hit. That’s a great comeback. That would have been another tough one for us, but you know, it’s a resilient group.”
[INSTANT REPLAY: Pence drives in four, Giants rally past Braves]
Nobody lives “Every Day Is A New Day” more than Pence, and the bulked-up outfielder showed his power while hitting a rocket out to left in the eighth inning. Pence has his highest slugging percentage (.509) since his rookie year, and he has seamlessly jumped back into the revamped heart of the order. The superstar, of course, remains Buster Posey, who became the third National League player to reach 75 RBI this season and is on track to match his 2012 MVP stats. The surprise star is Duffy, who raised his average to .309 and continued to stake his claim as a frontrunner in the Rookie of the Year race. With a few more days like this one, Duffy may be the guy to beat, and he’s certainly enjoying his role in this lineup.
“I think we feel pretty good right now with what we’ve got going,” he said. “After the series in Texas, we had a little rough time over there, it was good to put up some numbers like we have the first two games here in Atlanta.”
A night after pounding out 14 hits and eight runs, the Giants got 11 hits and eight more runs. Unfortunately for Peavy, the production came too late for a win. He was brilliant on a scorching night in Atlanta, giving up one run, showing a slider that’s as good as it’s been all season, and giving Bochy a chance to set up his bullpen down the stretch.
“What a great job he did,” Bochy said. “That’s a lot of work (106 pitches) in this heat. He pitched his heart out out there and he gave us a chance. We couldn’t quite hold it for him, but he certainly did his job.”
Since returning from hip and back injuries, Peavy has a 2.63 ERA. Since becoming a Giant, that number is 2.76 in 20 starts.
“He’s obviously much healthier now, and he looks like he has his strength back,” Duffy said. “That’s really exciting having him down the stretch. Tonight he definitely had his good stuff and that was fun to watch.”
If Peavy had a second screen going in the clubhouse after he departed, he saw a moment that was plenty of fun for this Giants organization. Less than three minutes after Pence’s homer, the Dodgers gave up a grand slam that caused them to lose a game started by Philadelphia’s Jerome Williams. It’s officially scoreboard-watching season in the National League West, and this Giants lineup will keep those scoreboard operators busy in the late innings. This lineup is never out of it, even if the other team leads after seven or eight.
“Anything can happen,” Pence said. “You’ve got to keep playing until the last out is made.”
--- If you missed it earlier, here's my recap of July. You'll enjoy it if you're related to the Poseys, the Crawfords, the Paniks, etc. Or if you're just a Giants fan, I think.