Giants

Giants' success starts with rotation: 'As much potential as anybody's'

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USATSI

Giants' success starts with rotation: 'As much potential as anybody's'

SAN FRANCISCO -- The last time the Cubs visited AT&T Park, the Giants gave them a reminder that for all the talent lined up in a dugout, there is always a great equalizer: starting pitching. Matt Moore nearly dragged the Giants back to Chicago, and the Cubs have been open about how terrified they were of facing Johnny Cueto in a winner-take-all game. 

This series provided a similar reminder. The Giants face an overall talent deficit most days, and they are a heavily flawed team, but they can still compete in the National League if they have a strong rotation. A day after Ty Blach held the Cubs down, Madison Bumgarner did the heavy lifting in a 3-1 win.

"That's going to be critical for us to get this rotation back to who we are," manager Bruce Bochy said. "That's our strength and it got away from us this year. That's who we are. It's going to be important that we throw the ball well the next six to seven weeks."

That process has started already. The Giants are 6-3 in August with a 2.85 ERA that would be even shinier if not for Matt Moore's continued struggles. Blach has five consecutive starts of at least seven innings and he has a 3.00 ERA over that span. Since returning from the disabled list, Bumgarner has gone at least 6 1/3 innings in every start except for one where he was pulled early in a blowout so he could return four days later in place of Matt Cain. He has a 2.52 ERA in the second half. 

"I really thought he would come back and be pretty much the same guy we've always seen," Bochy said. "His stuff is the same, his command -- everything is just right there."

Bumgarner was never particularly concerned. During a rehab assignment, he was confident he would return to his old self. The key for the Giants now is to get others to the same point. They will run Matt Moore back out there in hopes of him finding a solution. They believe Jeff Samardzija's peripherals will lead to better hard results. Johnny Cueto is expected back, and expected to be much better.

That is a path to being better. Wednesday's game also showed how narrow it is. Even with Bumgarner's performance, the Giants needed some defensive sloppiness from the Cubs to actually get the late lead. But if you're looking for a reason why the Giants should be competitive next year, here it is.

"I know we've had a couple of rough spots here and there," Bumgarner said, "But this staff has got as much potential as anybody's. The thing about potential is it doesn't do you any good -- you've got to go out and do it, and that's what we're working to do."

Barry Bonds back in left field at AT&T Park

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AP

Barry Bonds back in left field at AT&T Park

Barry Bonds was back in left field Friday at AT&T Park. Calm down, he was in blue jeans not a Giants jersey. 

Before the Giants take on the Phillies, Bonds casual caught fly balls back at the spot he used to roam for San Francisco. On Twitter he wrote, "I think I still got it. What do you guys think?"

Known for his legendary power as baseball's all-time home runs leader, Bonds is also one of the best defensive outfielders the game has ever seen. Bonds won eight Gold Glove awards in his career, five of them coming with the Giants.

Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente are the all-time leaders of Gold Glove awards among outfielders with 12 each. 

The Giants have used 13 players in left field this season. Perhaps they could use one more in Bonds.

Giants lineup: After beating Phillies to start series, no changes for Game 2

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USATSI

Giants lineup: After beating Phillies to start series, no changes for Game 2

The Giants scored early and hung on to beat the Phillies on Thursday night. One night later, Bruce Bochy is going with the same eight.

Philadelphia Phillies (43-76)

1. Cesar Hernandez (S) 2B
2. Freddy Galvis (S) SS
3. Nick Williams (L) CF
4. Rhys Hoskins (R) LF
5. Maikel Franco (R) 3B
6. Tommy Joseph (R) 1B
7. Jorge Alfaro (R) C
8. Cameron Perkins (R) RF
9. Zach Eflin (R) P

San Francisco Giants (49-74)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Hunter Pence (R) RF
3. Jarrett Parker (L) LF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Pablo Sandoval (S) 3B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 1B
8. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
9. Matt Moore (L) P