This season marks just the second time since the Giants moved to San Francisco that they have carried the majors’ best record into the All-Star break. The first was 1993, when they went on to win 103 games.
“We don’t want to finish like that team,” said shortstop Brandon Crawford, who grew up as a Giants fan and knows well that the 1993 team, despite its win total, did not make the postseason.
That, of course, was before the wild-card era, and long before a second wild card now gives five teams from each league a playoff berth. Regardless, the Giants have put themselves in an enviable position by going 57-33 in the first half and holding a 6 1/2 -game lead in the National League West at the All-Star break.
They accomplished this in an unlikely manner. They did not have Hunter Pence (hamstring surgery) in the lineup after June 1 and played the final two weeks of the first half with Matt Duffy (Achilles’), Joe Panik (concussion) and Matt Cain (hamstring) on the disabled list. They plugged their lineup with call-ups from the River Cats and still closed the first half with a remarkable 40-15 run.
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Starting pitching carried the day. All-Stars Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto made a formidable one-two punch, with the Giants going 29-8 in their starts, and Jeff Samardzija proved a capable if sometimes shaky No. 3. Bumgarner and Cueto alone combined for seven complete games, more than any other team in the majors.
The Giants played strong defense, epitomized by Brandon Crawford, who also led all major-league shortstops with 61 RBIs. And their depth and ability to overcome injuries gave them the look of a team capable of making another run in October.