Good players can carry bad teams for a period, squeezing out victories on the margins.
On good teams, supporting characters pick up the torch when the standouts are down.
Are the Giants a good team? They certainly look like one.
In the midst of a hot streak in which they are taking turns being the difference-makers, it was Donovan Solano with the go-ahead shot, a slew of Giants bats showing no mercy and Derek Holland who helped tame the Rockies offense in an 11-8 victory at Coors Field on Wednesday.
The Giants swept the Rockies away, a decisive four-game statement, their season-high fifth consecutive win and 12th in 14 games. The Giants (47-49) hadn’t been two games under .500 since (gulp) April 16, when they were 8-10. The Giants completed a seven-games-in-six-days road trip by winning six of the tilts, and now return for a four-game set against the Mets at an Oracle Park that will be rocking. They moved to within 2 1/2 games of Milwaukee and Philadelphia for the second wild card, with the Phillies yet to play Wednesday.
It has been quality starting pitching, the usual names out of the bullpen (sans Will Smith) and contributors like Brandon Crawford, Alex Dickerson and Mike Yastrzemski who have fueled a run few saw coming. Wednesday, it was mostly a new set who stepped up, to the plate and to the mound.
The Giants bats were relentless. Brandon Belt chipped in three of their 18 hits. Austin Slater, Stephen Vogt, Yastrzemski and Joe Panik added a pair apiece. A fifth-inning homer by Vogt tied the game at 5-5, and an inning later Solano gave the Giants a lead they would not relinquish.
Spelling Crawford, Solano went 4-for-5 with two doubles and the deciding shot off Jon Gray’s hanging curveball. He drove in a pair and scored a pair and is now 15-for-36 (.417) in 11 games this month.
Surveying the damage the Giants inflicted is impressive. They chased Gray, the Rockies ace, after tagging him for six runs in 5 1/3 innings. They beat up on the Colorado bullpen and have scored 105 runs in 13 July games, more than eight per game. They scored 96 total runs in 30 March and April games, just over three per game.
San Francisco’s latest outburst came in a game in which Dickerson wasn’t even in the starting lineup, taking a rest as the team is cautious with his back spasms. Still he made his presence felt, slashing a pinch-hit RBI infield single in the seventh that scored Panik.
Unlike Drew Pomeranz, Dereck Rodriguez and Jeff Samardzija, Shaun Anderson did not have the stuff to quiet the Rockies on an afternoon the ball was flying. He lasted just 4 1/3 innings and surrendered five runs. It could have been worse, as Holland entered with a runner on first, but the forgotten left-hander got a couple of ground balls to get out of the fifth.
Holland pitched a perfect sixth, retiring all five of the batters he faced as the Giants built and padded a lead. In his past 12 1/3 innings, the 32-year-old has allowed one run.
And the bullpen didn’t blink after he was lifted (until garbage time). Reyes Moronta and Andrew Suarez got big outs, until the rookie, in his third appearance this year, allowed three runs in the ninth. Mark Melancon then shut the door.
The Giants are getting contributions from every angle, a fresh face picking up the load when a regular tires. Will the front office be the next to help? Or will the front office give these Giants something that is suddenly rare: a setback?