Giants' lockdown bullpen is dreaming about playoffs, not trades


SAN DIEGO -- For the next five days, contenders in both leagues will try to bolster their bullpens. They'll add a piece or two, maybe someone for the sixth inning or someone for the eighth. A few teams may even try to trade for a closer. 

All of them will be seeking something. It's what the Giants already have.

There was little doubt in spring training that the bullpen would be the strength of this team, and during this run the group has been put in the spotlight. For the seventh time since the All-Star break, the Giants played extra innings. With a 2-1 win over the Padres on Friday night, they are 7-0 in those games. 

The Giants are 25-10 in one-run games and 11-2 in extra innings overall. Those are the numbers you see from teams that are still playing in October, and more and more, the clubhouse is starting to talk about the possibility. Forget selling. These guys want to go the other direction.

"I think it's pretty obvious with where we're at the direction we should be going," starter Jeff Samardzija said. 

Just three weeks ago, the Giants had far and away the most bullpen pieces available on the market. Will Smith was a top closer. Sam Dyson and Tony Watson could fit into any contender's bullpen. Reyes Moronta and Trevor Gott seemed sneaky options to go, and Mark Melancon was starting to get interesting. 

Now, just as it's hard to see Madison Bumgarner somewhere else on August 1, it is increasingly hard to see a sell-off from the bullpen. 

"I feel we're as strong as anybody," Melancon said. "Sometimes that chemistry thing comes into play. That plays a big part and I think the front office knows that."

Melancon has played a huge part in this run. He struck out Francisco Mejia and Fernando Tatis Jr. in the bottom of the 10th Friday and then got the win when Pablo Sandoval hit an opposite-field homer in the top of the 11th. Melancon has pitched five shutout innings in his last three appearances, all of which were in extra innings. 

"He did another great job," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've used him in multiple innings and he's doing a nice job there. He's on a nice roll."

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The whole bullpen is, and that has the Giants thinking up grand dreams. They pulled within 2 1/2 games of a playoff spot and feel they can go head-to-head with anybody down the stretch, in large part because they have a deep and varied bullpen that never backs down, and almost never gives up a run in a big spot. 

"We're kind of playing with house money right now," Samardzija said. "And it feels good."

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