Giants Talk

Giants show ‘they're for real' with NL West gauntlet run

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After sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers in SoCal, the Giants returned home to Oracle Park last week and nearly swept both the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks.

San Francisco's 8-2 run through the NL West gauntlet not only boosted the team from five games to 2 1/2 games out of first place, but NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic and Cole Kuiper believe the Giants' recent play also proved to the rest of the division they're here to stay.

"I think it showed they’re for real, and I kind of felt that going into the Dodgers series," Pavlovic told Kuiper on the latest episode of the "Giants Talk" podcast.

"Just the way they were playing and the way they were coming back, and the way they were -- really, more than anything for me -- it’s the way they filled all these holes on the roster, and the way it’s a different guy seemingly every single night."

The Giants arrived in Los Angeles on a four-game winning streak after sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals -- but losing outfielder Mitch Haniger to a fractured right forearm in the process. At the time, it was the latest in a rash of injuries that have plagued San Francisco so far during the 2023 MLB season, and Pavlovic noted the Giants' next-man-up mentality as one of the main reasons for their success in the face of such setbacks.

"You don’t think about J.D. Davis for a couple days, and then he’s their best player. You don’t think about [Thairo] Estrada for a couple days, and then he’s their best player for a game, and then [Michael] Conforto comes out of nowhere with a pretty big weekend," Pavlovic explained. "... Certainly that’s eye-opening, what they did in Los Angeles, and then to come back home and just keep it going and repeat it, and do what they did against San Diego and then against Arizona.

"There just hasn’t been a letdown, so I think it’s for real. And I think most people probably feel it’s for real at this point, and I think they have the attention of the rest of the division, certainly after the last 10, 11 days."

It's a thrilling time to be a Giants fan, especially as a new crop of young talent makes their mark in the big leagues while complementing the team's veterans. There's Blake Sabol, the Rule 5 pick who made the roster out of spring training, and those who have debuted as the season progresses, like Casey Schmitt, Patrick Bailey, Keaton Winn, Luis Matos and others.

Things are going so well, in fact, that some fans might have forgotten about the offseason's failed Aaron Judge pursuit, or the wacky Giants-New York Mets-Carlos Correa saga.

"It’s exciting," Kuiper said. "The team does feel real. I think a lot of fans feel vindicated for how negative a lot of the different discussions have been since, what, November? Since all the drama with our free agent nonsense."

With the Giants sitting in second place within the division and a half game up on the Dodgers for the second NL wild-card spot, their interesting offseason doesn't feel quite as bad as it might have for fans a few months ago. And the rest of the West has taken notice.

"I think one of the most important things about this week, thinking long term, was they really put a dent in a team that was supposed to win the division," Pavlovic said of the Padres. "... What [the Giants have] done here is gotten themselves with those other two [the Diamondbacks and Dodgers], and really two pretty huge swing wins against a team [the Padres] that was trying to crawl back into this."

The Giants are in the thick of things now, with the Aug. 1 MLB trade deadline just over one month away. They've put a playoff-contending product on the field thus far and proven to their rivals they're the real deal -- now, it's just about sustaining that momentum.

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