SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time the Giants won a 10th consecutive game, Damon Minor was their first baseman. Minor is now a Triple-A hitting coach who has been in that role long enough to impact many of this current team's contributors, including Luis Matos, who was just two years old during the last double-digit streak.
It's been a long, long time since the Giants have had 10 games like this, but right now there appears to be no stopping the train, no matter how many players go down.
A 4-2 win over the San Diego Padres gave them their first 10-game winning streak since 2004, with the last six coming against the two teams favored to finish atop the division.
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The Giants reached double-digits with more good pitching and opportunistic hitting, but also with a pretty big break. With a one-run lead and two on in the fifth, Joc Pederson hit a single to right but Blake Sabol was thrown out on a 99 mph rocket from Fernando Tatis Jr. As players from both sides left the field, the Giants challenged. A lengthy review ended with the announcement that catcher Gary Sanchez had blocked the plate.
Yu Darvish had to come back out to continue the inning -- after his manager got ejected -- and Mike Yastrzemski greeted him with an RBI single. J.D. Davis' single made it a four-run inning, with three of them coming after the call was overturned.
Those proved vital, as the Padres scored a couple of runs late in the game before Camilo Doval came on for his 20th save.
With two in scoring position and two down in the top of the fifth, Sean Hjelle threw a good curveball down and away and got an inning-ending strikeout of Tatis. He pumped his fist and screamed as he came off the field, having joined two other young right-handers who have had a huge hand in the recent success.
Hjelle struck out five in four scoreless innings after taking over for rookie opener Ryan Walker. Three of the strikeouts came in the fifth. The performance pretty much matched what Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck gave the Giants earlier in the series.
The staff came into the season thinking all three would contribute at some point, and it happened quickly. Over the last four games, Hjelle, Beck and Winn have combined to allow just one run in 16 innings. Very quickly, the Giants have apparently turned into the Tampa Bay Rays.
Another One Down …
The Giants have managed to plug plenty of holes during this streak, but Yastrzemski is one of their most indispensable players and he might again be headed to the IL. After his RBI single, Yastrzemski hurt his left hamstring while going first to third on Davis' single. He immediately went back to the clubhouse, and an MRI seems likely.
Yastrzemski hurt the same hamstring in Mexico City the last time the Giants played the Padres. That one looked more severe in the moment and he ended up missing a little over two weeks.
Bob Melvin's ejection came a night after Bruce Bochy was ejected for arguing the very same rule. Bochy's Texas Rangers gave up the go-ahead run against the Chicago White Sox when catcher Jonah Heim was ruled to have blocked the plate, and Bochy said after the loss that it was "absolutely one of the worst calls I've ever seen."
Melvin appears to have had good reason to argue. MLB's rule says a catcher can block the path in a "legitimate attempt to receive a throw," and the Padres likely felt that Gary Sanchez was taken up the line by the throw from right. That appeared to be what Melvin was telling umpires.
A 2014 memorandum added that "the runner may still be called out if he was clearly beaten by the throw." It was close on that point, but officials in New York ruled in the Giants' favor.