Holland settles down, lineup completes comeback as Giants stay close in NL West race


DENVER — Derek Holland has done his best to fully become a San Francisco Giant. He takes bike rides through the city on days off. His water jug celebrations have become a staple of huge wins. He has taken the plunge into Giants Twitter, sending good-natured GIFs back to fans who called for his release. 

But there was one part of being a Giant that no pitcher is eager to embrace. Holland said he was not fully aware of Nolan Arenado’s continued destruction of Giants pitching. He didn’t ask anyone, or hear any stories, but …

“I didn’t have to be told, because I know he’s really (bleeping) good,” Holland said. 

Arenado hit a moonshot in the first, giving the Rockies a 3-0 lead. His 22nd career homer against the Giants appeared to have the orange and black set for another disappointing day at Coors Field. But Holland rolled with the punch. He turned and watched. 

“I knew he got hold of it,” he said, “So I might as well look and see how far it flew.”

Then, he pretended the score was still 0-0. Holland settled in and allowed just one more run in five innings. The offense clawed back and the bullpen didn’t budge. When it was over, the Giants had a 7-4 win and a springboard back to AT&T Park, where they expect to get three healthy veterans back on Friday and Madison Bumgarner back Tuesday. The Giants would have been six games out with a loss Wednesday. Instead they’re just four back of the Rockies, despite all that’s happened. 

“We’re still in the middle of this thing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re going to get some guys back and that’s a shot in the arm.”

Holland has been that shot in the arm for a rotation that’s had very little go right. His ERA was, as he put it, “a touchdown” at the end of April. But in six May starts, Holland had a 4.32 ERA and three wins. That ERA won’t get you into an All-Star Game, but it made him the de facto ace of a battered staff, and Holland was pleased with the team wins. 

“I get that my ERA was a touchdown but I’m not going to worry about that,” he said. “I’m not getting caught up in what my ERA is all that crap. Just give the team a chance to win.”

The lineup took advantage of that chance against a struggling Jon Gray. Brandon Crawford ended a 42-hit month with two more and an RBI. Evan Longoria struck out four times but had a big RBI triple. Four Giants had multiple hits, and the lineup chipped away until there was a lead. Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson and Sam Dyson carried it to the ninth. Hunter Strickland got Arenado to fly out as the tying run with two outs. 

The win nudged the Giants to 26-30, which is not where they hoped to be. But this is a terrible division, and the Rockies are on top at just 30-26. In any other region, the Giants might be buried. But they’re not, and Joe Panik, Mark Melancon and Hunter Pence should return Friday. To clear one spot, the Giants optioned Tyler Beede back to Triple-A. They’ll need to clear two more, and then another on Tuesday when Bumgarner returns for the ace tag. The guys who have gotten the team to this point are looking forward to being whole. 

“The guys that were here kept us close, kept us in the race,” Holland said. “Having those guys back is going to be outstanding.”

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