Giants Complete Sweep Behind Bench Efforts

The San Francisco Giants notched their 18th come-from-behind victory of the season – and their fifth in a row – on Sunday as they defeated the New York Mets 6-4.

The sweep was San Francisco’s fourth of the year and the first time they’ve swept the Mets since August 20-22, 2002. The Giants are now 6-0 in their last six series and haven’t dropped a series since losing two of three to Pittsburgh on May 5-7.

New York took an early lead against Tim Lincecum. Matt den Dekker took a lead-off walk and stole second but was thrown out trying to take third. But Daniel Murphy singled with two outs, and Curtis Granderson launched his seventh home run of the season to center field to make it 2-0 Mets.

But like they’ve done all season, the Giants refused to quit. Hector Sanchez, Tyler Colvin, and Brandon Crawford led off the bottom of the second with back-to-back-to-back singles to make it 2-1, and Gregor Blanco gave San Francisco the lead with – what else – a two-out hit. Blanco doubled down the line, and while he eventually got thrown out trying to stretch it into a triple, his hit gave the Giants 73 hits on the season with two outs and runners in scoring position – tied for the most in baseball (Los Angeles Angels, Miami Marlins). Their 125 RBIs with two outs also ranks first in MLB.

After Hunter Pence was hit by a pitch to lead off the third and Pablo Sandoval singled behind him, Michael Morse grounded into a double play, scoring Pence and making it 4-2.

That run was huge, as Granderson took Lincecum deep again in the sixth, this time with a solo shot into McCovey Cove. For the Mets right fielder, it was his 15th career multi-home run game with his last one coming on October 3, 2012 against the Boston Red Sox when Granderson played for the Yankees. He’s now reached base in 21 straight games, the second-longest current streak in the Majors.

Despite a rough first inning – which has been his pattern all year – Lincecum (5-4, 4.97) turned in a quality start. He tossed six innings, allowing six hits, three runs, one walk, and striking out six. He threw 98 pitches, 59 strikes, and says that his offense getting back those early runs was huge.

“My team picked me up big time there, and that gave me the bounce I needed to go out there and just keep repeating and try to keep us where we were. Defensive plays kept us there, and a couple good pitches here and there, but I’m happy with it, except for the two pitches to Granderson.”

The Giants righty out-dueled his counter-part Zack Wheeler, who was another first-round draft pick for San Francisco (2006 for Lincecum, 2009 for Wheeler). Wheeler (2-6, 4.19) struggled, lasting just three-and-two-thirds innings, giving up six hits, four runs, two walks, and striking out six with one wild pitch and one hit batter.

San Francisco added another run in the bottom of the seventh when pinch-hitter Ehire Adrianza led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, and came home on a Blanco single up the middle. It was Blanco’s third RBI on the afternoon in place of Angel Pagan, who was getting a day off. With Buster Posey also out of the line-up, the bench stepped up as it has all season. Blanco believes that the bench players feed off of each other’s success.

“Everything started, it seemed, with Hector Sanchez. In the beginning he started having good at-bats from the bench, and I said to myself, ‘he’s doing it, so I need to step up and start swinging it to. And I know Arias is gonna start doing it more often.’ And [Perez], unbelievable. [His two-run home run] was really good for him…And Adrianza has been having great at-bats and great defense…Me, as a bench guy, I’m just continuing to do a good job, and I know the guys playing every day are doing a their job. It’s chemistry, and a team effort, and we just gotta continue to do it.”

That run turned out to be crucial as the Mets scratched across another run with some two-out magic of their own. Against Jeremy Affeldt, Murphy singled and Granderson hit a ball that nobody could get to. Granderson hustled in to second, while Murphy took third and eventually came home on a wild pitch by Jean Machi. But the Giants reliable reliever got Chris Young to fly out to left, ending the threat and preserving the lead.

Just for good measure, Crawford doubled with two out in the eighth, and Brandon Hicks singled him home. Sergio Romo shut the door in the ninth, earning his 20th save of the season – also a Major-League lead.

For New York, Sunday marked the 21st time the team has lost after having a lead at some point in the game. They’ve now lost a season-high six games in a row. On the other hand, the Giants are now a season-high 21 games over .500, have the best record in MLB, and remain 9.5 games ahead of the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers. Is this the best team in baseball?

“I think it’s early in the season, we’re playing great baseball,” Bruce Bochy said. “The season’s 162 games. That’s how we have to look at it. You don’t get anything for where you’re at right now, so I’ll answer that question later…we can’t think about where we’re at and how we’re playing…just get after it every game, the way they’ve been doing.”

They’ll try to get after the first-place Washington Nationals for a four-game set starting Monday night when Stephen Strasburg (5-4, 3.10) will take on Ryan Vogelsong (4-2, 3.39).