SAN FRANCISCO — To snap out of a concerning downward spiral that saw seven straight series losses, a Giants team built to win as a collective needed a few individuals to step out and lead.
A rookie home debut. A near-no-hitter. An impassioned speech. It took all these things to dig the Giants out of a slump and rolling into a crucial series victory against the Cincinnati Reds.
The Giants lost their potential series sweeper, 4-1, on Wednesday afternoon at Oracle Park. Logan Webb allowed two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts in his outing.
The Giants were struggling when this home stand began. They’d lost 14 of their last 17 games, primarily against teams with winning records, and started to slip out of the wild card picture. Against the Tampa Bay Rays, Braves (twice) and Phillies, the Giants often looked out of steam, out of sorts, and not much like a playoff team that could compete with the game’s best.
Thairo Estrada decided something needed to be said. So before the Giants’ series finale against Atlanta on nationally-broadcasted Sunday Night Baseball, Estrada implored his teammates to lock in on the little things again — making smart defensive plays, more competitive at-bats — in an impassioned speech from his locker.
The speech inspired one of the Giants’ most complete wins of the month and might’ve ignited a fire.
Kyle Harrison’s home debut stoked the flame. Not only could organization could show its fans the top prospect up front, Harrison exceeded expectations. The hometown kid playing in front of hundreds of family, friends and De La Salle students, struck out five straight Reds to start his first game at Oracle Park. He’d be the first Giants pitcher in 111 years to strike out 10 or more (11) and the first pitcher to do it since Shohei Ohtani struck out 12 in his second major league game back in 2018. The Giants won, 6-1.
Just as impressive was Alex Cobb’s ability to keep the show going. The 35-year-old came an out away from a no-hitter in Tuesday’s win to nail a series win against a wild card contender neck-and-neck in the running.
The Giants won’t get a break in the schedule anytime soon. Up next is a road trip to San Diego followed by a trip to Wrigley to play the Chicago Cubs. The stacked Padres are floundering, but a series win either way could have major implications on both teams’ wild card standings. Same goes for the Cubs series; The Giants could be in position to challenge Chicago’s wild card standing — currently, they’re 1.5 games up on the Giants.
There’s an opportunity to gain ground during a three-series in mid-September where the Giants play the bottom-feeding Colorado Rockies twice — at home first, then on the road — and the Cleveland Guardians. That’ll gateway into a final stretch where the Giants play the wild card contending Arizona Diamondbacks for two games, Dodgers and Padres. They’ll play the Dodgers in six of their final 12 games.