PHOENIX — The Giants have embraced a "Never Say Die" attitude in the past, but usually it's in the postseason. This time around, they’re putting a twist on the motto. They refuse to go away in the National League West race.
The Giants came to Phoenix five games out of first place and left five games out, still very much within striking distance of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. A 3-2 win on Sunday clinched a 4-2 trip, the first winning trip for this group in 13 months, and it turned on one swing from Evan Longoria. The third baseman took Archie Bradley deep in the eighth and the bullpen took it home from there, wrapping up a win that came on the heels of two ugly performances.
With a loss Sunday, the Giants would have been seven games out, with the Astros and red-hot Pirates coming into town this week, and Dodger Stadium on deck. Every day can feel urgent this time of year, especially with a front office that at some point may decide to dump some salary on waivers.
“Every game from here on out will be big,” said Derek Holland, the day’s starter. “We’ve got to get the ground back that we need.”
Longoria did his part with one swing, hitting his 12th homer and building on a big weekend for the biggest bats in this lineup. The Giants built their 2018 lineup around the belief that Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Buster Posey could carry them. It appears they’re finally ready.
Longoria, after smoking an elevated fastball from Bradley, is 15-for-42 since coming off the disabled list. He had five extra-base hits on the road trip. McCutchen reached base in eight consecutive plate appearances over two days. Posey reached base in his first two plate appearances Sunday after sitting a day with concussion fears, and he was 7-for-15 on the road trip.
“It’s been tough, we’ve had guys in and out,” Longoria said. “Obviously as individuals we expect to perform at a certain level. It’s nice to all be out there together and get it going. If there’s a time to get it going, it’s now.”
Bruce Bochy intends to ride the wave. He said McCutchen, Posey and Longoria will hit 1-2-3 in the order for now.
“Cutch had quite a series, didn’t he? Buster is swinging well and Longo, too,” Bochy said. “That’s what it’s going to take. Those guys are veterans and the heart of the order.”
The Giants will need them to stay hot back home. There are still plenty of leaks on this roster, and while five games isn’t a whole lot to make up, the Giants are five back of two separate opponents. They will have to watch the scoreboard every night, hoping their wins come with losses elsewhere.
On Sunday, they got no help. The Dodgers beat the Astros and the Rockies, also still in the way, beat the Brewers. But five games is much better than seven, and for some veterans in the clubhouse, it may have provided a reprieve. The Giants will stick with this group a bit longer, hoping to finally catch fire. Longoria helped guarantee that with a homer off the Diamondbacks' best reliever.
"He's supplying all the power," he said. "You're trying to get the barrel on the ball. The wall is pretty high. I'm glad it just scraped over."