MILWAUKEE — After a disappointing start to the season, the Giants finally seem to be hitting their stride.
With a 15-1 blowout win over the Brewers at American Family Field on Friday night, the Giants (26-25) seized their ninth victory in their last 11 games and climbed above .500 for the first time in 2023.
San Francisco’s lineup pounded out 19 hits, including a trio of homers from Mitch Haniger, Brett Wisely and J.D. Davis. Haniger’s two-run shot off Milwaukee right-hander Freddy Peralta — his first homer for the Giants outside of Mexico City — highlighted a three-run second, while Wisely’s three-run blast capped a seven-run outburst that broke the game open in the third.
“A lot of good swings, obviously,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “Good at-bats up and down the lineup. Even some of the at-bats that didn’t end well were grindy at-bats and ran pitch counts up. I thought our guys did a nice job top to bottom.”
The Brewers — already rattled from the loss of shortstop Willy Adames, who was hospitalized after being struck by a foul ball in the dugout in the bottom of the second — never recovered, mustering only one run on three hits over 5 2/3 innings against left-hander Alex Wood.
Wood had yet to complete five innings in his first six appearances this year, but he delivered some much-needed length for the Giants on Friday, striking out five while throwing 93 pitches in his longest start of the season. Tristan Beck took care of the rest, firing 3 1/3 scoreless innings to give his fellow relievers a breather following the club’s bullpen game on Thursday.
San Francisco’s pitching staff hasn’t allowed more than four runs in 12 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the Majors.
“The boys scored a bunch of runs for me,” Wood said, smiling. “They wanted to see me get that sixth inning today. That was nice. I couldn’t help but think about that in the third when they scored a bunch of runs. It was great. Any time you get that support, it’s awesome. Hopefully they keep doing that in every one of my starts.”
The Giants stumbled out of the gate this season, going only 6-13 through their first 19 games, but they’ve managed to turn it around by going 20-12 over 32 games since April 22.
Several factors have keyed their recent surge, including lights-out work from their bullpen (0.88 ERA over the last 11 games), a hot stretch from Michael Conforto (.368 batting average with seven homers and 16 RBIs over his last 15 games) and the arrival of poised rookies like Casey Schmitt, Patrick Bailey and Wisely, who combined to go 8-for-15 with seven RBIs out of the bottom-third of the lineup on Friday.
All the positive developments have added up to the Giants’ first winning record since last August, though they still have work to do in the National League West, where they sit in third place behind the Dodgers (31-21) and D-backs (29-21).
“It’s cool to finally be over that hump,” Wood said. “We’ve taken it a day at a time. We feel like we have the pieces on both sides of the ball. … It’s nice to see and feel like we’re playing our brand of baseball. We’re hitting, the bullpen’s been great the last two weeks, young guys are contributing. We’ve got to keep it rolling. Hopefully we’re kind of starting to hit our stride. This is what we expect to see day in and day out moving forward.”
Like Conforto, Haniger endured a slow start at the plate after missing the first three weeks of the season with an oblique strain, but he’s also beginning to show signs of breaking out of his prolonged slump. The 32-year-old veteran entered Friday hitting .193 with a .521 OPS over 24 games, but he collected three hits and knocked in a season-high four runs against the Brewers, showing the type of production the Giants envisioned when they signed him to a three-year, $43.5 million deal over the offseason.
Haniger said he’s primarily been working on smoothing out things with his load and staying in his legs, which he hopes will help him settle into a better rhythm at the plate.
“It’s all about making adjustments,” Haniger said. “Not the first month I imagined to start the year. I definitely want to produce more and come through more. At the end of the day, I’ve just got to keep working hard and make adjustments. It’ll come around. It always has for me my whole career. You go through ups and downs. You’ve just got to learn from it and make adjustments.”