With their two opponents in the wild-card race both on the way to blowout wins Tuesday evening, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he brought the scores to the attention of his hitting coach, Hensley Meulens.
"I told Bam Bam, ‘Listen, they’re responding to what’s going on, they put up a big number. It’s up to you,’" Bochy said. "He accepted the challenge, I guess."
The Giants held serve in the opener of their final homestand Tuesday night and employed an odd bit of symmetry in doing so. Hours after the Mets and Cardinals each scored a dozen runs in their wins, the Giants trounced the Rockies, 12-3, rapping out 19 hits to set a new season-high at AT&T Park.
Matt Moore, meanwhile, rebounded from a horrid start in Los Angeles to allow one run while pitching into the eighth inning. With one of their most thorough wins of the second half, the Giants remained a half-game behind the Mets and a game ahead of the Cardinals for the second wild-card spot.
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"It’s good for these guys to break out," Bochy said. "It’s been a while since we had a game like that. Hopefully it’s something that gets them going."
Could such a game indicate the Giants, who have struggled so consistently since the All-Star Break, are waking up with five games left to play?
"Sure, it’s possible," catcher Buster Posey said. "Hope it does."
Posey notched a career milestone with his 1,000th hit in the fifth, homering off of German Marquez as the Giants broke open a close game with a four-run inning. Their first six batters of the inning all recorded hits, with the first five combining to hit for the cycle. Hunter Pence followed Posey’s homer with one of his own, the fifth time this season the Giants have gone back-to-back.
The inning gave the Giants a 6-1 lead and opened the floodgates, as they finished with 10 extra-base hits. Brandon Crawford had four hits, including two triples, Brandon Belt finished a home run shy of the cycle and Pence added three hits. Posey, in fact, was the lone starter other than Moore not to have a multi-hit game.
Posey’s home run, however, made him the first player to record 1,000 hits all in a Giants uniform since Rich Aurilia in 2003. He also got the ball back in exchange for a bat.
"It’s a cool accomplishment," Posey said. "I think back to being a kid and just thinking about having an opportunity to play in the major leagues was a dream come true. So to have 1,000 hits, it’s kind of hard to believe."
That might have been said of the Giants’ offensive barrage given they entered Tuesday as the lowest-scoring team in the majors in September. To Bochy’s delight, even after going ahead they continued to pad their lead, scoring five times in the eighth inning.
"We’re going to have to score runs," Bochy said. "We’re playing good teams and they swing the bat. It’s going to be important we get this offense going a little bit. That’s gotten away from us."
Moore received the support on a night he seemed determined to make even a small lead stand up. The left-hander, who was rocked for six runs in the first inning in his last start, matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and allowed just one run in the third inning, when Cristhian Adames doubled, moved up on a bunt and scored on Charlie Blackmon’s groundout.
"Great bounce-back by Matty," Bochy said. "The starter sets the tone and Matty just did a nice job."
Moore said he was less proud of the 11 strikeouts than of the fact that he did not walk a batter. He said he made an adjustment after his start against the Dodgers by emphasizing a slower tempo on the mound and felt more under control Tuesday night.
"You’d say, hey, we’re going to go for a bike ride and we’re going to bike 10 miles, and out of the gate you’re just burning, giving everything you’ve got, I think that’s kind of what happened in L.A.," Moore said. "I think I wasn’t staying within myself, I was trying to create maybe a little too much. Tonight, I just told myself, the whole week leading up, just trust myself and trust that same tempo that got me where I am."
While the Giants were off Monday, Moore said he flipped his TV between the Mets and Cardinals games and the presidential debate, the wild-card standings present in his mind.
"It’s been like that for the last week or so," Moore said.
It’s officially the last week now. And the Giants, their postseason fate still up in the air, held their ground Tuesday night in an emphatic way.