Mike Yastrzemski

What we learned as Giants' odd rally ignites win vs. Padres

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The Padres easily have the second-best run differential in the NL West, but as they kicked off their first series of the season with the Giants at Petco Park, the preseason division favorites sat 10 games under .500 and well back of the Giants, who currently hold the third Wild Card spot.

It's a baffling result, but the third inning on Thursday certainly explained a lot.

The Padres kicked the ball around and the Giants took advantage, taking a huge early lead and cruising to a 7-2 win. They've won four of their last five and finished with a 12-15 record in August, their toughest month of the year schedule-wise. 

The Giants broke the game open with a six-run third inning that was half about what they did right and half about what the Padres did wrong.

The Giants played small ball throughout the inning and kept the line moving, but they were helped by three defensive mistakes. A rare wide throw from Manny Machado cost the Padres one out and Wade Meckler beat out a bunt for a single. The biggest mistake was a grounder up the middle that Gold Glove contender Ha-Seong Kim booted into center field for a double. 

Jakob Junis and Sean Manaea did the rest, combining to allow one run over 7 1/3 innings and 144 pitches.

Cobb 2.0

Against one of the more dangerous lineups in baseball, Junis had one of his best outings as a Giant. The right-hander threw four no-hit innings just a couple of days after Alex Cobb's near no-no, but he didn't come close to getting a chance to do something really special.

With Junis at 58 pitches, Manaea took over for the fifth inning. Junis has thrown 60-plus pitches just four times this season and only once over the last couple of months, and he was meant to serve as a quasi-opener on Thursday. 

Manaea allowed three hits and walked four in his three innings, but he put up three zeroes against his former teammates. The biggest out came in the bottom of the sixth, when he loaded the bases but struck out Garrett Cooper to get out of the jam. 

Wade's World

The fourth run of the third scored when Meckler put down a perfect safety squeeze bunt that turned into a single. The Padres screwed the play up defensively, but it still probably would have been an out if anyone else was running.

Meckler got down the line with a sprint speed of 31 feet-per-second, the third-fastest dash of the year by a Giant. Meckler, who has played just 15 games, has the top three, and consistently has reached elite territory. A sprint speed above 30 is considered elite and Meckler already has hit that mark seven times. Overall, he ranks in the 97th percentile among MLB position players in sprint speed.

Meckler hasn't stolen a base or even attempted a steal in the big leagues yet and he didn't steal much in the minors because he feels he gets poor jumps. That's something the Giants can work on in the offseason and with Meckler's first full big league camp next spring. Over time, that should become a big part of his game. 

Welcome Back

Mike Yastrzemski chose the perfect time to return from the IL. In 60 career games against the Padres entering this series, Yastrzemski was hitting .299 with 13 doubles, nine homers and a .939 OPS.

He was in right field on Thursday night and went 2-for-3 with a walk. While leading off the fifth, Yastrzemski lined a sinker just over the wall in left for his first homer since July 26. The blast was the 12th of the year for Yastrzemski, who has played just 79 games because of hamstring injuries.

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