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Four days after the San Francisco Giants were recovering from another devastating loss that had fans looking forward to a trade deadline fire sale, the club is trying to play its way back into the playoff race.
The efforts are paying off.
With a dominant start from a rookie pitcher and a pair of key home runs from veteran infielders, the Giants (12-16) won their fourth consecutive game with a 6-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Third baseman Evan Longoria became the 150th player in baseball history to join the 300 home run club and first baseman Wilmer Flores homered for the third straight game.
The Giants are riding a hot streak, but they also lost one of their biggest contributors to the team’s recent success in the first inning as Austin Slater was removed from the game with a mild left groin strain. Slater will have a MRI on Saturday.
With 23-year-old Logan Webb on the mound and 23-year-old Joey Bart catching, the Giants had their youngest starting battery since Madison Bumgarner threw to Buster Posey regularly in the early 2010s.
“He’s pretty good, huh?” Webb said of his battery-mate.
Webb set career-highs with 7.0 innings and eight strikeouts as he limited the D’backs to five hits and two runs. The right-hander punctuated his outing by throwing a sweeping slider to freeze Arizona shortstop Nick Ahmed. Webb’s final pitch appeared to dip below the strike zone, but a strong frame from Bart helped him earn the strike call.
“I’m just excited about Logan individually and the steps forward he’s taken and certainly excited about Joey’s start,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He’s been great in just about every element in the game.”
In the bottom of the inning, Bart worked a 10-pitch plate appearance against D’backs reliever Junior Guerra and earned a bases loaded walk to pick up his first career RBI and give the Giants a valuable insurance run. The walk came immediately after the D’backs intentionally walked Alex Dickerson and also followed a 103.4 mile per hour double off the right field wall Bart hit earlier in the game, giving him two extra-base hits in his first two appearances with the club.
“I thought Joey’s at-bat after the intentional walk to Dickerson was really an important moment,” Kapler said. “I actually looked over at Kai (Correa) during that at-bat and said no matter what happens here, this is a story. I felt that way because it was so professional and he never got out of control.”
Joey Bart rips another double 💪 pic.twitter.com/2pBDgxBheB
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 22, 2020
With one out in the bottom of the third, Longoria turned on an 0-1 fastball from D’backs starter Robbie Ray and hammered the pitch halfway up the left field bleachers. The Giants third baseman became the 10th player in franchise history to record his 300th career home run with the team, which gives San Francisco the second most all-time behind the New York Yankees who have had 15 players reach the milestone while wearing the pinstripes.
300 career home runs for Longo 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/tekRwUwMqQ
— SF Giants on NBCS (@NBCSGiants) August 22, 2020
Giants manager Gabe Kapler was a teammate of Longoria’s in Tampa Bay in 2009 and 2010 when the Long Beach State product earned two of his three career All-Star nods and has always spoken highly of the way Longoria carried himself in the early stages of his playing days. More than a decade later, Kapler is penciling Longoria into his lineup on a daily basis and was on the top step of the dugout when he joined an exclusive club.
Giants fans never saw Longoria during the prime of his career, but the odds are good that the former face of the Tampa Bay Rays will receive Hall of Fames votes when he eventually becomes eligible for enshrinement in Cooperstown.
Longoria hasn’t been as productive as the Giants hoped since they acquired him in December, 2017, but his fellow infielder, Flores, has surpassed the expectations of the two-year, $6.25 million deal he signed with the Giants in February.
The former D’backs infielder took the team lead with his seventh home run of the season Friday to give the Giants a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the fifth against his old club. All six of Flores’ previous home runs had come in two-strike counts, but his go-ahead shot off Ray came on the first pitch he saw.
The Giants signed Flores with the expectation he would be an above-average platoon option against left-handed pitchers, but he’s played well enough to receive an extended look against righties this season as well.
“He crushes left-handers, everybody knew that coming in. Initially the idea was to have him platoon against Belt and have him hit against left-handers, but he’s proven he can pretty much hit against anybody this league and what he’s doing right now is pretty special,” Longoria said.
Nearly every Giants position player has been hitting the ball well over the last week as the club has scored at least six runs in seven of their last eight games.
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