SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants have some banged up players right now. Alex Dickerson’s back is bothering him. Brandon Belt’s knee isn’t fully healthy. Others have the type of aches and pains usually associated with suiting up nearly every day for close to four months.
It all feels better after a win, though. And after their third extra-inning victory in four days Sunday, this one courtesy of Mike Yastrzemski’s solo home run in the bottom of the 12th inning, the Giants remain 2 1/2 games back of the second wild card spot in the National League.
It was the sixth walk-off win of the season for the Giants, who have now captured five consecutive series to improve to 50-50 overall.
The Giants host the Chicago Cubs for three games, starting Monday, before they finally get their first day off since the end of the MLB All-Star break.
“The way we’re playing, we’re a bunch of grinders right now,” Yastrzemski said. “Doesn’t matter if we’re going into extras or playing double-headers, we want to win. It’s fun being a part of something like this.”
Takeaways from Sunday’s win by the Giants.
1. The bullpen continues to shoulder a big load: Yastrzemski — as one might expect — was only going to take part of the credit for the Giants’ victory.
Sure, he took a 3-2 changeup from Mets reliever Robert Gsellman the opposite way, as the ball just cleared the wall in left field.
But the Giants’ bullpen once again the opposing lineup largely in check, as they combined to throw seven shutout innings, allowing just two Mets hits.
Trevor Gott pitched the 12th inning and picked up the win, improving to 6-0 this season.
In the three Giants wins over the Mets, the bullpen combined to allow just one earned run and eight hits over 16 innings.
They were the biggest reason why the Giants were able to win the series despite scoring just seven runs in the three victories
“Really, the whole season, the bullpen has just done a terrific job,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “These guys are getting a lot of usage, and that usually comes with close games like this. They’re just getting it done and you have confidence in every one of them.”
2. MLB debuts memorable for Green, Menez: Northern California natives Zach Green and Conner Menez both had favorite Giants players they used to watch when they were younger. Green, 25, liked Rich Aurilia and Jeff Kent. Menez, 24, remembers coming to China Basin to watch Tim Lincecum.
Both Green and Menez made memories in their own Giants uniforms Sunday.
Menez, officially selected Sunday to — perhaps temporarily — take Drew Pomeranz’s spot in the Giants’ starting rotation, struck out six in five innings. Green had two hits, including a single in his first big league at-bat.
Menez, a Hollister native, allowed solo home runs to Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario in the second inning. He settled down to retire 10 of the last 11 batters he faced, including striking out the side in the third inning.
After he fanned Pete Alonso for the second out of the third inning, the Mets’ slugger, who began the day with 33 home runs, snapped the bat over his knee like it had all the weight and density of a toothpick.
“I just thought he got better as he went with his command,” Bochy said of Menez.
Green, of Carmichael, singled off Mets starter Steven Matz in the second inning. In the fourth, Green doubled down the left field line, scoring Buster Posey, who led off the inning with a ground rule double to right center field.
Green, 25, was hitting .302 and had 23 homers in 64 games for the River Cats.
“It was a special day,” Green said.
3. Derek Holland no longer a fit: To make room for Menez and Green on the 25-man roster, the Giants on Sunday morning designated veteran left-handed pitcher Derek Holland for assignment and optioned left-hander Ty Blach to Triple-A Sacramento.
The Giants needed fresh bodies, and felt Menez and Green would be helpful additions. Holland, even though he had shown signs of improvement in recent weeks, wound up as a casualty. The Giants have seven days to trade, release or place Holland on irrevocable outright waivers.
Holland had posted a 2-4 record and a 5.90 ERA in 31 games, including seven starts, in his second season with the Giants.
Including Saturday, right-handed batters had hit .293 with a 1.022 OPS in 219 plate appearances against Holland this season. That includes 10 doubles and 17 home runs.
Against lefties, Holland was stellar, holding them to a .182 batting average and a .471 OPS. He had allowed just one extra base hit to a left-hander this season in 89 plate appearances.
“The way (pitching coach) Curt (Young) and (Bochy) have used the pen, to great affect, we tend to go more inning-to-inning than hitter-to-hitter with that bullpen,” said Farhan Zaidi, president of baseball operations, Sunday morning. “When you have that kind of strategy, it’s a little bit tougher to kind of have the specialist, which I think is the ideal role for Derek the way he’s been throwing recently.
“That’s one reason why I think they’ll be a lot of interest in him out there. The ability to get lefties out is pretty valuable. We’re in a position where we’ve got a lefty closer, a lefty set-up man and right-handed relievers who actually do really well against left-handed hitters.”