The Giants made things look easy in 2021. They looked like the 2021 Giants on Sunday.
The 2021 Giants were an easy team to root for. Despite mediocre expectations, the Giants performed like one of the best teams in MLB very early in the season and never looked back. While their postseason run ended earlier than fans hoped, there were rarely moments of incompetence last season.
That has not been the case with the 2022 Giants. Instead, the defense has been inconsistent (to put it mildly) while the offense, bullpen, and multiple members of the starting rotation have gone through extended stretches of frustrating mediocrity. Perhaps this was the Baseball Gods’ punishment for a season as easy as 2021.
Or perhaps not.
It really seems like the Giants’ season turned on Joey Bart’s mid-game speech a few nights ago that helped spark an incredible ninth-inning comeback off Josh Hader. Maybe we’re all just trying to fit the randomness of an MLB season into a narrative, but what’s the point of writing without a little bit of a story?
The Giants crushed the Milwaukee Brewers 9-5 on Sunday, pushing them into the All-Star break on the heels of seven wins over their past nine games with an excellent +34 run differential over that span.
San Francisco’s offense was not phased by Milwaukee starter Aaron Ashby, forcing him out of the game after just 1+ innings. Turning to Menlo College product Jason Alexander, manager Craig Counsell hoped to keep the Giants offense contained, but he would have no such luck.
A single by Brandon Belt helped Yastrzemski come around to score, giving the Giants an early 2-1 lead. Then, in the third inning, they poured it on.
Wilmer Flores, Evan Longoria, and Joc Pederson got the third inning started with three consecutive hits and then a two-out infield single by Joey Bart kept the rally alive for LaMonte Wade Jr. to blast a game-breaking three-run homer into McCovey Cove, which put the Giants ahead 7-1.
Brandon Belt added a two-run homer in the sixth for a little extra insurance, but that was more than enough for Logan Webb. Webb got off to a bumpy start, surrendering a first inning home run to Willy Adames and needing double plays to help escape second and third-inning rallies unscathed. However, he was dealing by the middle of the game.
Webb worked into the seventh inning but was removed by manager Gabe Kapler after issuing a leadoff walk. Webb threw 88 pitches and probably had a little more left in the tank, but Kapler used the opportunity to give Jakob Junis his first time on the mound since returning from the injured list.
Junis was knocked around in his two innings of work, allowing the inherited runner from Webb and another of his own to score before finishing the seventh. Then a two-run homer by Rowdy Tellez in the eighth brought Milwaukee within four. However, Kapler turned to Camilo Doval for the ninth, and he quickly shut the door with a 1-2-3 inning.
The Giants are heavily relying on Junis to build on his first-half success in the final stretch of this season. While he was hit hard on Sunday, it was probably a good idea to give him some low-stress innings before he likely returns to the starting rotation after the All-Star break.
A few Giants will now head to Los Angeles for All-Star festivities, but the rest of the organization will follow a few days later when the Giants start the second half with a four-game series against the Dodgers. The Giants finished the first half 48-43 and just a half-game back of the Cardinals for the final Wild-Card spot in the National League.