Gorkys Hernandez

Watch Gorkys make incredible throw home, get rewarded by replay review

Watch Gorkys make incredible throw home, get rewarded by replay review

Gorkys Hernandez's personal highlight reel is going to be pretty long at the end of the season.

On Wednesday night in Los Angeles, the Giants center fielder added a great play to that reel.

With one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the fifth, Dodgers left fielder Matt Kemp floated a broken-bat single into center. With second baseman Brian Dozier heading home from second, Hernandez came up firing and made a perfect throw to Buster Posey. Posey slapped the tag on Dozier, but home plate umpire Stu Scheurwater called Dozier safe. Immediately, Posey and Brandon Belt pointed to the Giants dugout asking them to review the play.

Hernandez was rewarded as the replay officials on the East Coast overturned the call on the field and ruled Dozier out. The play kept the game tied 0-0.

Giants clinch first winning month in two years, and finally appear to be finding momentum

Giants clinch first winning month in two years, and finally appear to be finding momentum

SAN FRANCISCO — The second half collapse. The blown lead in Game 4. All the injuries last year. All the injuries this year. The Bumgarner crash. The Strickland punch. The second Strickland punch.

The list goes on and on. The point is, the Giants have had a lot of negatives over the past two years, but finally, they appear to be finding momentum. 

With a 3-2 win over the Rockies on Tuesday night, the Giants improved to 15-9 in June. It sounds like a small step, but for a team that nearly choked away a playoff spot in 2016 and lost 98 games the next year, this represents a milestone. 

The Giants will have a winning June. It will be their first winning month since June of 2016, when they went 17-10 and looked headed for bigger things. Every month since has been .500 or worse, often much worse.

“We’ve been playing better so hopefully we can build on this, and we’re going to have to. You get late in the season and that margin for error gets smaller,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’ve had a tough schedule and been through a lot but the guys are playing pretty good baseball. We’re getting solid pitching and doing the little things it takes to win the ballgame.”

The Giants excelled in both those departments Tuesday while winning for the sixth time in eight games back home. Derek Holland continued his surge, allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings and matching a season-high with eight strikeouts. The outing was his longest since last May 21, when he was with the Chicago White Sox. 

“I started off not as good as I should have (this year), but I keep improving out there,” Holland said. 

Nobody fits that mold better than Gorkys Hernandez these days. At the age of 30, he has set a career-high with 10 homers. We're not talking about a career high in the majors, either. He never hit more than eight even in a minor league season, of which were were many. 

"When you play the game every day you have confidence in yourself," Hernandez said. "That's what I'm looking for."

That confidence showed in the game's biggest moment. Hernandez homered in the third and his bunt in the seventh helped push the lead runner over. But the Giants would give up the run a few minutes later. In the eighth, Hernandez put them back on top. With the bases loaded, he stared at a couple of close pitches from Adam Ottavino, one of the best relievers in the National League. He took a 3-2 slider just inside and then trotted down to first, the go-ahead run having been pushed across. 

"That's what he's been doing all year," Bochy said. "That's why he's out there every day. He's really made himself into a good all-around player."

The third run of the night would hold up, and it got the Giants closer to another milestone. They have outscored opponents 100-74 this month, and barring an epic meltdown over the final four games of June, they'll have their first positive run differential since September of 2016. 

 

Unsung heroes step up as Giants avoid another meltdown against Marlins

Unsung heroes step up as Giants avoid another meltdown against Marlins

SAN FRANCISCO — Can a series victory leave you feeling more concerned about a team than you were when it started?

The Giants tested that possibility for 27 innings this week against the rebuilding Marlins, taking two of three in a series that contained way too much drama, an unnecessary beanball war with an inferior opponent, self-inflicted damage on and off the field, and one last attempt at blowing a lead. 

When it was over, though, there was a handshake line, and there was confidence. First baseman Brandon Belt, who was in the middle of many of the good things the Giants did in a 6-5 win, said he still believes this team has an “it factor.” 

“It seems like we have that, in my perspective,” he said. “A lot of it has to do with unsung heroes.”

We will get to them in a moment, but first … “it factor”?

“We didn’t have the ‘it factor’ last year, just so you know,” Belt said, smiling. “For frame of reference.”

These Giants may yet have a run in them. Perhaps they’ll get Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto back and take off, and we’ll all look back on this as a strange three-day set with a team the for whatever reason has the Giants’ number. If they do reach any sort of glory, it will be because they survived with newfound depth. As Belt said, there are unsung heroes here. 

--- Derek Holland: After his last start in Los Angeles, Holland chastised himself for not going deeper into the game. He did so again Wednesday, despite pitching into the seventh. Holland was charged with three earned in six-plus. Forget the ERA; he has been a reliable presence for a rotation mostly lacking them. 

“I’ve got to keep continuing to use this moomentum,” he said. “I feel I’m progressing.”

--- Holland was on deck when Gorkys Hernandez won a lengthy battle with Jose Ureña, the hard-throwing righty who was so tough on the Giants until a five-run sixth. Hernandez is playing through a painful rib bruise that he suffered in Washington D.C. It flares up on certain swings, and he can’t hide his grimace at times. But that didn’t stop him from taking Ureña’s 14th pitch of the at-bat into right field for a two-run single that put the Giants up 5-1. 

“I just kept yelling at him, ‘Keep going, baby! Let’s go!,’” Holland said.

The Giants have roster issues in the outfield that they’ll need to come to grips to at some point. Perhaps they would have made a move had they dropped Wednesday’s game. But Hernandez is safe as the center fielder. The hit raised his average to .285, and it would be needed. 

“That was the key in the game,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He really grinded out that at-bat, 14 pitches, and just came through with a huge hit there.”

--- Ty Blach was the opening day starter. Here is his last week: 6 2/3 innings of relief dominance in a 16-inning win last Thursday; a clean sixth inning in a win last night; a perfect eighth inning to hold a three-run lead Wednesday. Yes, Blach was the setup man for the day, and he excelled. He always seems to when Bochy throws him a new role. 

“He’s always stepping up,” Holland said. “That’s the huge thing he needs to get credit for.”

Holland noted that Blach never complains when moved around. He just does his job. On Monday night, after the blown win, Blach ran laps around the outfield at 10:30 p.m., getting his conditioning in. Two days later, he got the ball to Sam Dyson. 

--- Dyson didn’t end the game with the ball in his right hand. He was pulled after giving up two runs — Hernandez didn’t help by losing a ball in the sun — and putting two more on. So, Reyes Moronta entered and got a strikeout for his first career save. Moronta, a 25-year-old rookie, has a 1.91 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He has been one of the more underrated players for a team that's still in the NL West race. 

“You’re forced at that point to make a move,” Bochy said. “Reyes has done some closing in the minor leagues and he’s got the equipment to do it.”

Perhaps, before long, Moronta will be closing up here. It’s a possibility that seemed far-fetched when the Giants returned home, but then Hunter Strickland tried to put his fist through a door. A lot happened to the Giants this week, but when the series was over, Moronta was pumping his fist and the rest were joining him to shake hands.