SAN FRANCISCO — Derek Holland walked up to the microphones late Monday night, a Warriors cap tugged over his curly hair and a koala cartoon on his chest. He introduced himself as Derek Lastname, a nod to a bungled and incomplete graphic that made it onto a national network’s broadcast of the game.
When asked about being pulled after four innings, he gave manager Bruce Bochy credit for going to a pinch-hitter who drove in two runs with the bases loaded. When told that he was on pace for 27 strikeouts after whiffing the first four Diamondbacks, he pointed out how hard the feat is. Then he puffed his chest out so the writing on his t-shirt was clear.
“But I am…totally koalafied,” Holland said.
Yes, these Giants are having fun. And who could blame them? They’ve won five in a row, they just swept a good Phillies team, and they beat the Diamondbacks 10-3 on Monday by scoring seven runs in the bottom of the fourth, immediately after a two-run double by the visitors. Oh, and they get Madison Bumgarner back on Tuesday night.
The Giants once hoped Bumgarner could come back in time to keep them in the race. Now the hope is that their best player can vault them to the front of the pack. They are 30-30, and just 1 1/2 games behind the Diamondbacks and Rockies, co-leaders of a division that has yet to show a contender.
Players will always tell you that there are no excuses. But in moments of honesty, these Giants will also tell you that they will happily take their current record given Bumgarner’s two-month absence.
“That means we did our job,” Holland said. “Now we’ve got to continue to keep doing it. This is the time to gain some ground and make moves and get where we feel we should be.”
A week ago, the Giants looked headed for a tailspin. Now it’s not hard to picture them grabbing hold of this division.
The lineup is the deepest in the NL West. Andrew McCutchen, Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval and Nick Hundley all homered Monday. Buster Posey had two hits in his new No. 2 spot in the order, including a big two-run double. Hanson is a weapon off the bench. Joe Panik looks suited for leadoff life. Evan Longoria is a vast improvement over last year’s third basemen and Gorkys Hernandez has been a revelation. Even Hunter Pence got into the mix Monday.
The bullpen might be the deepest in the NL West, too. Pierce Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A to clear a spot for Bumgarner, but eight remain, and it’s the best Giants group in several years.
The rotation has been the weak spot, but the weekend was full of positives and…Madison Bumgarner returns Tuesday night. Did we mention that? Last Tuesday, the Giants dropped their third straight road game and fell to 25-30. What a difference a week has made.
“They’ve done a great job of bouncing back,” Bochy said.