After an abysmal 2-6 road trip to Houston, Chicago, and Denver, the San Francisco Giants returned to home, where they have played their best baseball this season. The Giants are 17-10 at AT&T Park versus just 12-20 elsewhere.
The team batting average is 26 points higher (.276) and the Giants are slugging 51 points higher (.438) at home compared to on the road. Interesting splits considering the challenge hitting at AT&T historically. Naturally, the ERA at home (3.89) is nearly a run better.
The Phillies were welcomed to town on Friday but the Giants had some transactions to make prior to the start of the series. Second baseman Joe Panik was scheduled to return from the disabled list and in turn, the Giants optioned utility infielder Kelby Tomlinson.
Panik made an immediate impact to the Giants lineup batting in the leadoff spot. In the three-game series, Panik had six hits, scored four runs and drove in another two.
The Giants previously called up pitcher Tyler Beede for the series finale in Colorado but immediately sent him back down, as reliever Mark Melancon made his return to the bullpen.
Signed and slated as the team’s closer last season, Melancon will have to have to earn that title back from Hunter Strickland. In 27 appearances this season, Strickland has converted 12-of-14 save opportunities, compiling a 2.42 ERA.
For the time being, Melancon will pitch in lower pressure situations as he gets reacclimated to the big leagues. In his one inning of work on Sunday, Melancon struck out the side.
Hunter Pence also made his return to the majors last weekend and the Giants were forced to clear a roster spot for him. Gregor Blanco was designated for assignment but cleared waivers and will report to AAA Sacramento on Tuesday.
Pence will have a new role as the Giants’ reserve outfielder as Mac Williamson will remain the starting left fielder. In a pinch-hit appearance on Sunday, Pence received a rousing standing ovation before flying out to center.
In an unexpected event, Brandon Belt was removed from Friday’s game and rushed to the hospital to have an emergency appendectomy. A significant blow to the Giants lineup as Belt was the team leader in home runs and RBI.
The Giants re-called Alen Hanson, who returned from a hamstring injury. The conservative timetable for Belt’s recovery is three weeks with Pablo Sandoval and Buster Posey getting the work at first base in the meantime.
Madison Bumgarner will be the next Giant to return from injury as he will make his first start of the year on Tuesday against the Diamondbacks. The Giants will have to make a corresponding roster move and it would appear that reliever Pierce Johnson’s days are numbered.
The Phillies were held to just one run in the three-game sweep and the Giants got wins from each of its starting pitchers. Chris Stratton earned his seventh win of the year after tossing six shutout innings, yielding just four hits on Friday.
Andrew Suarez kept his spot in the rotation for the time being with a dazzling start on Saturday. Suarez completed seven shutout innings, giving up just three hits. Andrew McCutchen helped Suarez’s cause with an outstanding, running back-handed catch in the right centerfield gap to save a run early in the contest.
Then on Sunday, Dereck Rodriguez made his first Major League start and outdueled former Cy Young Award winner, Jake Arrieta in the win. Rodriguez gave up a solo homer to Arrieta in the third inning and trailed 1-0 for most of the game. The Giants rallied against Arrieta in the sixth with five runs, capped by a 3-run shot down the right-field line by McCutchen.
The Giants have three important home games against the NL West-leading D’Backs before another extensive road trip. They embark on a 10-gamer to Washington, Miami, and Los Angeles beginning on Friday.