May 30, 2024
The Giants will be seeking to win consecutive games for only the second time this season when they return home after defeating the Marlins, 3-1.

MIAMI — Keaton Winn was in tip-top form, the Giants provided him just enough run support, and they beat the Marlins, 3-1, to clinch their first series win of the season away from Oracle Park. Now comes the hard part.

“Have we won two games in a row yet?” manager Bob Melvin pondered before first pitch Wednesday morning.

Yes, but just once, and not since their first series of the season, stringing together wins in the second and third games in San Diego.

“To get out of these little funks that we’re in, it usually takes a little bit of a winning streak,” Melvin said. “Confidence rises and you’re able to gain some momentum. We just haven’t had a ton of traction as far as that’s gone yet, so it’s been a little frustrating for everybody.”

No better time than now to start a winning streak.

When the Giants return home Thursday to host the Diamondbacks, they’ll have the top two finishers in last year’s Cy Young voting on the hill the first two games. They should have plenty of motivation to top Winn’s stellar showing that shut down Miami’s lineup on Wednesday.

The lone damage against Winn over six innings came on a well-located sinker that Bryan De La Cruz snuck over the right field wall for a solo shot in his final frame. That was one of only four hits the Marlins mustered against him, and the first and only time a runner advanced past first base.

He was cruising, using only 63 pitches to complete five scoreless, before the first batter of the sixth, Luis Arraez, lined a ball right back at him. It glanced off the bottom of his cleat, and Thairo Estrada recovered to record an impressive out, but Winn wasn’t quite the same after.

The next batter was De La Cruz, and after him, Winn threw five straight pitches outside the strike zone — one was erroneously called a strike — to put on Jazz Chisolm Jr., only to be erased by Patrick Bailey to end the inning.

Despite a strong pitching line and a low pitch count — 81 after six — Melvin turned to his bullpen to finish the final three frames. Camilo Doval — after a full complement of warm-up pitches — pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his third save of the season, his second of the road trip.

Winn held two of his first three opponents to three runs or fewer, but the Giants had lost all of his first three starts. They had scored two total runs while he was on the mound, the least run support for any starter in the National League (min. 16 IP), a title Logan Webb held last season.

The two runs they gave him Wednesday — plus an insurance run on Matt Chapman’s two-out double in the eighth — was all Winn needed.

Estrada doubled home Jorge Soler to open a 1-0 lead in the second inning and scored the go-ahead run in the seventh after beating out an infield single to lead off the inning. It was his third multi-hit effort of the six-game road trip, raising his batting average to .239 and OPS to .680.

Something bigger appeared to be brewing in the seventh, with Patrick Bailey following Estrada with another knock, but a spectacular play by the second baseman Arraez snuffed out the rally. Nick Ahmed bounced a ball up the middle, and Arraez dove to his right. He gloved the ball, belly-flopped to tag second base, then fired the ball to first base for a double play. The Giants went from runners at the corners with nobody out to nobody on and two outs, but most crucially, Estrada scored on the play.

Still, the Giants managed only three runs in the win and scored more than four only once in six games on this road trip. They seemed to snap out of their offensive funk in the final game of the previous home stand, a 7-1 win, but mustered just one run in their first game in Tampa. Five homers and 11 runs the next game were followed by 14 total runs over the final four games of the trip, including 35 strikeouts over the three-game series in Miami.

“I think across the board, we need to play better,” Melvin said. “Whether it’s on the pitching end, whether it’s on the offensive end, we just really haven’t hit our stride yet. We have certain games that look good, but we haven’t sustained it.”

The most-telling metric to Melvin, at least at this juncture, is the Giants’ run differential.

They have been outscored by their opponents 91-79, 12 runs in the hole through their first 19 games.

“Run differential kind of tells you where you are,” he said. “We’re a little down in that.”

Notable

The Giants should get a better sense of when their players on the mend could return when they get back to San Francisco on Thursday.

There, they will consult with Alex Cobb (hip/elbow), Sean Hjelle (elbow) and Luke Jackson (back) about their next steps.

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Jackson is “itching to get back,” Melvin said. He threw 20 pitches to hitters in Arizona on Monday and a rehab assignment could be next. He shouldn’t require more than one, unlike Hjelle, who has made three already as the team attempts to stretch him out to cover multiple innings out of the bullpen.

Melvin’s tone changed when asked about Cobb, who threw a bullpen session Monday in Arizona. “He felt OK,” Melvin said. “He’s coming back to San Francisco tomorrow, so we’ll take stock of him tomorrow as well.”

Up next

The Giants’ charter flight is scheduled to land back in San Francisco sometime around 9 p.m. Wednesday — midnight in the time zone where they spent the past week — and they’ll be right back at it following the cross-country trek. Set to host the Diamondbacks for four games, followed by a weekend set against the Mets, the team doesn’t have another off day until next Thursday.

Webb gets the ball in the series opener, though he did not fly back ahead of the team. In fact, he exchanged lineup cards at home plate before first pitch Wednesday. Blake Snell is scheduled to follow him Friday, still seeking his first win in a Giants uniform.

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