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Thanks to Brandon Belt’s three-run double and Ramiro Peña’s sharp glove-work at third base, the Giants won their 48th game of the season on Friday night. If 48 wins seems like a lot — if, in fact, you can’t remember a time when the Giants lost two consecutive baseball games — you’re not alone. They’re 31-9 over their last 40 games, a streak so magnificent that you’d have to go all the way back to the 1954 New York Giants’ 33-7 record to find a better one.
What makes the Giants’ streak even more remarkable is the depleted roster they’re working around. Matt Cain and Hunter Pence are rehabbing injured hamstrings, and infielders Ehire Adrianza, Matt Duffy, and Kelby Tomlinson are all sidelined with various thumb and foot injuries. Without a number of their key starters, the Giants needed to get creative. Brandon Belt powered the offense in the seventh inning with his eighth extra-base hit in nine games. And, after a fatigued bullpen squandered a three-run lead in the eighth inning, backup third baseman Ramiro Peña threw out Tyler Goeddel with the bases loaded in the ninth. A brief replay review confirmed the out and solidified the Giants’ win.
No matter how many slick fielding highlights Peña accumulates or how many grainy replays tip in the Giants’ favor, however, now is not an optimal time to start coasting. The Rockies, Diamondbacks, and Padres are all clustered at the bottom of the division, but the Dodgers lurk just seven games behind first place, a Cy Young-contending Clayton Kershaw among them. Although the Giants are averaging 4.6 runs per game, good for tenth best among major league teams, they've been fortunate to face seven sub-.500 teams in the last month and will need to ramp up their run production to stay competitive against better teams in July. One key to extending their win streak could be Jay Bruce, the Reds’ 29-year-old outfielder with the .280/.330/.580 batting line, but the Reds appear to be playing hard to get for the time being. Without Bruce, the Giants will have to hope that their roster returns to full strength soon if they want to keep their winning streak -- and the chance to try for a fourth championship -- alive.
- If the Giants don’t manage to snag Jay Bruce by the trade deadline, perhaps the Royals could give the slugger a comfortable home.
- With the Astros slowly closing in on the AL West lead, the addition of top prospect A.J. Reed could be a game changer. (Or not. No pressure here, Reed.)
- The Red Sox’ catcher/left fielder experiment has gone a bit haywire this season.
- If the Dodgers want to catch up to the Giants, they’ll need to do one of two things: clone Clayton Kershaw or push their non-Kershaw pitchers to make longer starts.
- After six straight losses, the Mariners finally hit on a winner with Adam Lind’s three-run jack and a jubilant walk-off against the Cardinals on Friday. Victory never smelled so sweet.
- Julio Teheran makes good trade bait, but the Braves might be wise to keep him in their ranks.
- Which outfielder should the Cardinals trust to patrol center field: the hot-hitting Stephen Piscotty, defensive wizard Tommy Pham ... or Kolten Wong?
- It’s time for the Yankees to worry about Alex Rodriguez.
- Brad Ausmus slotted starter Mike Pelfrey into the bullpen on Friday, and the right-hander ended up pitching his first and only scoreless outing of 2016.