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Giants close gap further in suddenly interesting wild-card race

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Several “P” words have been in play for the Giants this season. Farhan Zaidi wants to see progress, to see his core of hitters revert to who they are.

He wants to see potential from the youngsters and fliers, the promise that can entrench them in future Giants lineups.

For a team that for so long has been expected to sell at the deadline, “process” may have been next; borrowing from Philadelphia and Joel Embiid to flip a rebuilding team into a contending one.

Out of seemingly nowhere, “process” may be fading. Is “playoffs” taking the lead?

The Giants swept a doubleheader from Colorado on Monday, capturing the nightcap, 2-1, at Coors Field and moving three games back of Philadelphia and Milwaukee for the second wild-card spot. Each victory makes Zaidi’s decision harder for a team that has won 10 of its past 12 games.

The Giants (45-49) took the opener on the strength of Brandon Crawford’s bat — as well’s as everyone else’s, really — in a 19-2 slaughter. The nightcap was purer Giants, a few big hits (one by Crawford) and shutdown pitching.

Though, the source of the pitching was uncommon. Dereck Rodriguez pitched five innings of one-run ball, and that run was not entirely his fault. He struck out six and allowed four hits and no walks, an impressive outing especially in light of the way the ball was traveling in Coors Field.

It was Rodriguez’s first start since May 10, when his poor pitching got him demoted to the bullpen. But it was temporary – a fact aided by his ineffectiveness as a reliever – and in his first look back in the rotation, he impressed. Drew Pomeranz’s spot is again in jeopardy.

While Rodriguez was extraordinary, the bullpen was back to its old ordinary. Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson and Will Smith pitched scoreless innings apiece.

Back-to-back shots by Stephen Vogt and Crawford to start the fourth were all the scoring the Giants needed. It was Vogt’s third of the year and Crawford’s ninth – and third of the day. The shortstop packed a week of production into about 10 hours, finishing the day with six hits and nine RBIs.

If those bats lifted Rodriguez, it was Austin Slader’s glove that brought him down. With one out in the fifth and a runner on, Garrett Hampson hit a drive to right field that made Slader freeze. By the time he recovered, the ball was over his head. A run scored, but the Giants’ relay threw Hampson out at third – the second time of the game he was pegged down at the bag.

Apart from the Giants’ blasts, they had little going offensively, chalking up six hits and going 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position.

But after proving they could use the bats to win hours earlier, they proved to their ownership they can win games the old-fashioned way, too. And each win brings them closer to changing Zaidi’s mind at the deadline.


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