Giants announcer Duane Kuiper stepped up to the microphone to emcee the team’s ring ceremony before its Saturday evening game against the Arizona Diamondbacks and led off with a succinct statement.
“It’s been a rough week,” Kuiper told the announced sellout crowd at AT&T Park. “It’ll get better.”
The rest of the night was a step in that direction for the Giants, losers of eight consecutive games coming in. They received their 2014 World Series rings and then beat Arizona 4-1 to snap their longest losing streak since 2007.
Chris Heston, a minor contributor in 2014, accepted his ring first among players and then held the Diamondbacks to one run in 72/3 innings, while the lineup scored more than two runs for the just third time in the Giants’ last 10 games.
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Heston continues to be a bright spot for the Giants’ embattled rotation while filling in for injured Matt Cain. All three of Heston’s outings have been quality starts, and he recorded the longest start by a Giant this year by pitching into the eighth inning, allowing the run on David Peralta’s leadoff homer in the fourth. Heston’s second major-league win gave the Giants their first this season at home.
“It’s good to get in the win column; it’s been a tough week for us,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They were pretty fired up before the game, and we got the pitching effort I think you need when you’re trying to break a streak. (Heston) gave that to us.”
Heston recorded the first two outs of the eighth and had the AT&T Park crowd on its feet as he got two strikes on Arizona’s Jake Lamb. As Lamb singled on Heston’s 112th pitch, bringing Bochy out of the dugout, the crowd remained standing as the 27-year-old rookie walked slowly off the field with his head lowered.
Sergio Romo entered and struck out Paul Goldschmidt out on a check swing to finish the eighth. In three starts – two against Arizona – Heston has allowed just two earned runs in 202/3 innings.
The Giants said Heston is the franchise’s first rookie since at least 1914 to begin a season with three starts of six or more innings and one or fewer earned runs in each.
“I’m on cloud nine right now, and I think I have been since I got here,” Heston said. “I’m just trying to stick to the process and attack the zone, and hopefully I can keep it going.”
Unlike in the Giants’ home opener, when he threw well in a 2-0 loss, Heston pitched with a lead for most of Saturday. After being shut out Friday night by Arizona’s Josh Collmenter, the Giants needed just two at-bats to score against Rubby De La Rosa, as Nori Aoki lined a leadoff double to left field and Joe Panik singled.
Buster Posey added a broken-bat RBI single in the third inning, and after Gregor Blanco singled with one out in the fourth, Brandon Crawford hit his third home run of the year into the arcade seats in right center.
“It seemed like we ran some deep counts and guys were seeing the ball a little bit better,” Bochy said. “Hopefully they’re starting to relax and throwing out the type of at-bats we know they can.”
Bochy said he was a little preoccupied during the pregame ring ceremony by the team’s eight-game skid. It was also the third such event in five years at AT&T Park, though this one featured a few new flourishes.
The first two rings were carried in by parachuters and presented to president of baseball operations Brian Sabean and Bochy. The rest of the rings – made of 14-karat white gold and featuring the team’s “SF” logo set in 18-karat yellow gold with 55 round diamonds – were driven onto the field by Lexus convertibles.
After rings were presented to the Giants’ five living Hall of Famers, players and coaches from the 2014 team were introduced and accepted their rings near the plate. Madison Bumgarner, the World Series MVP, received the loudest cheers while accepting his third World Series ring at the age of 25.
Heston got his ring first so he could go to the bullpen and warm up. He said he had time to give it only “a quick look” before turning his attention to the game.
“It looked real to me,” said Heston, who made three outings for the 2014 team. “I closed the box. It gave me something to look forward to.”
Upon returning to the clubhouse after the win, Heston said, the first thing he did was re-open the Tiffany box.
“I put (the ring) on my finger and kind of savored the moment,” he said. “It was a pretty surreal feeling.”
Note – Saturday wasn’t all positive for the Giants, who placed starter Jake Peavy on the 15-day disabled list with a back strain. Catcher Andrew Susac (Jesuit High School) was called up from the River Cats to replace Peavy on the 25-man roster, while Bochy said no decisions have been made yet about replacing Peavy in the rotation.
Peavy had an MRI on Saturday that showed the strain. He said issues with the SI joint in his left lower back are causing his back to spasm and tighten up, and the Giants hope rest will alleviate the discomfort. Peavy said surgery has not been discussed as an option.