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Giants showing off depth in march back to first place

NBC Sports
LaMonte Wade

The Giants went 16-10 in April, finishing the month as a surprise leader in the National League West, but you could understand if many around the game -- and the Bay Area -- were skeptical.

This is a team that wasn't projected to contend, and that first month included 13 games against the Miami Marlins and Colorado Rockies. The Giants needed to test themselves against better competition, and May promised to do that, with a dozen games against the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. 

Well, May has come and gone, and the Giants are still in first place. They grew mustaches, rode strong starting pitching, and kept bashing homers at a pace not seen around here since the Bonds Years. With Monday's 6-1 win over the Angels, the Giants finished with an 18-10 record in May. 

Through one-third of the season, they are on pace for 102 wins. 

"I feel good about the way we played in May, and in particular, obviously that last road trip was big for us and it was a difficult road trip," manager Gabe Kapler said. "Not a lot will be made of the two games we played in Arizona but I thought we played well there, and then the Dodgers obviously are tough whether they're here or there. I thought we played a good series on the road and I thought this was a really important win for us, just because of the energy and the emotion that we spent to try to win the Dodgers series.

 

"We knew this was going to be a tough competitor as well. We knew that (Dylan) Bundy would come out and throw a lot of strikes and force us to put the ball in play, which he did. I feel like it was an important win just because there can be an emotional letdown after a series like the Dodgers, and we know that the Angels are a great team and we weren't going to let that happen."  

This win was familiar to so many of the rest. The offense was driven by the long ball on a sunny day at Oracle Park, which is a lot more helpful to hitters when there is a 1 p.m. start. Evan Longoria, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Mauricio Dubon all homered, with Dubon's showing off the depth of this club. 

Longoria left the game in the sixth with right side tightness, but Dubon stepped in at third base and hit a blast to left-center in his first at-bat. Longoria said he'll have an MRI on Tuesday. 

"I felt it kind of jogging around second base after the swing and I just felt like something wasn't quite right," Longoria said. "It kind of just persisted a little bit. I went back out there on defense and felt the discomfort still, so I decided at that point to just try and get out of the game and hopefully prevent hurting it further."

The injuries have piled up for the Giants, but they continue to get by with their depth. Wade was playing because the Giants are without their top two first base options against right-handers, and he kept his positive run at the plate going. Dubon has been valuable wherever Kapler has played him recently.

"It's a good feeling for players to have when they know the other guy is really good as well and is prepared for those moments," Kapler said. "And I think the Dubon substitution for Longo is evidence that everybody can do the job, but just as importantly that they're all prepared for those (at-bats)."

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Longoria called it a "next-man-up mentality" and said it's what stands out to him the most through this 34-20 start. 

"It's fun to watch, it's fun to be a part of," he said. "I think that having the mentality like that is setting us up for future success and hopefully at some point we can get everybody healthy and get everybody out on the field at the same time."

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