Before the COVID chaos enveloped this season, when the Giants were plotting out how to win baseball games without pandemic and short-camp alterations, there was a blueprint to follow.
Some timely, powerful hitting from some of the bats Farhan Zaidi & Co. targeted this offseason; a starter who kept the team in the game, and a flexible bullpen that could baffle you with arm after arm.
There will be nothing normal about this season, and yet Friday’s victory felt like the kind of normal the Giants aspire to.
Wilmer Flores, the only free agent to whom Zaidi has given a multi-year deal, came through against a lefty, the San Francisco bullpen was lights-out and a noise machine, some cameras and a few reporters witnessed the Giants running away from the Rangers and playing an all-around good game in a 9-2 victory to start the series at Oracle Park.
The Giants (4-4) really only needed one swing. In the fifth inning, Chadwick Tromp’s first career hit was followed by a Mauricio Dubon single that dunked into left field. With one out and two on against lefty Mike Minor, Flores fouled a ball off his foot and was in some pain. He walked it off, got back in the batter’s box, and a few pitches later crushed a three-run shot to left, wiping away a 2-1 deficit and welcoming a 4-2 Giants lead that they would pad late.
It was Flores’ second homer of the year, his bat playing against lefties and righties thus far. Tromp, too, had a nice day in his second career game, jumping on a Minor fastball in the sixth that was up and lining it to left for a double that scored Darin Ruf from first.
Dubon, who was batting ninth, knocked in Tromp with a single, with the bottom of the lineup (Ruf, Tromp and Dubon) all contributing.
Mike Yastrzemski’s torrid streak continued, leading off the bottom of the fourth with a shot to Triples Alley that would have been a home run in some parks and would have been a triple if it bounced a bit differently. But it leapt over the wall, going for a ground-rule double, and he would be stranded on a night that was OK. After the Giants scored 13 runs in their first five games this season, they have scored 23 runs in their past three games.
Donovan Solano’s bat also stayed hot, adding his nightly RBI single in the seventh, No. 10 on the year and having entered play tied for first in the NL.
The bullpen always was going to have the best shot at being a strength of the team because of the depth of arms. Logan Webb battled, digging a hole immediately by surrendering a Shin-Soo Choo home run on the first pitch of the game, and pitched around trouble often. He walked four in 3 2/3 innings but allowed just two runs (one earned).
He kept them around, though, which allowed the bullpen’s dominance to matter.
Conner Menez piggybacked off Webb, entering with the bases loaded and two outs, and induced a pop-up. He would be perfect in 1 1/3 innings, and each ensuing reliever imitated the outing well. The bullpen (Menez, Shaun Anderson, Wandy Peralta, Tony Watson, Sam Selman) combined for 5 1/3 innings without a walk and surrendering just two hits, both in the ninth.
Just like the Giants drew it up.