Carlos Rodon, Alex Wood lead Giants by example after frustrating stretch

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Rodón, Wood lead way for Giants after frustrating stretch originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- The low point of the Giants season came Tuesday night, and after the sixth straight loss, Alex Wood stood in the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field with a look that was hard to read.

There was some frustration and some anger, but there also might have been a little desperation. Wood has been around long enough to know that a lot can change for a team in early July.

A surprising hot streak, like the Alex Dickerson-fueled one in 2019, can convince management to keep a struggling group together. Continued shows of strength, similar to last season, can convince executives like Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris to go for it and pull the trigger on a move like the Kris Bryant trade. But the kind of baseball the Giants played for most of the last three weeks can motivate a team to sell, or at the very least, to stand pat.

At the low point of the skid, Wood said several times that it was "coming to a head" for the Giants.

"If this is who we're going to be ...," Wood said Tuesday, his eyes flashing. "We're going to find out in the next four or five days if this is who we're okay with being or if we're not."

A night earlier, Carlos Rodón had stood a few feet away in the same clubhouse and sent a similar message. On Monday, Rodón was more firm than any Giant has been in public through all of the mediocre play since the end of April.

"I think something needs to change," he said. "I think we're playing really bad baseball. You could say as much as you want, you know, but until we physically do something and make a change, I don't think we're going to see any results."

The proclamations were a welcome sight, if only for the fact that they showed that there were, in fact, signs of life in the clubhouse. But it's one thing to say something publicly, it's quite another to go out and lead by example.

Rodón and Wood are starting pitchers, so they get just one chance every five games to make a statement with their play. They took full advantage over the weekend at Petco Park.

A day after Rodón backed up his words with one of the best games of the season -- 12 strikeouts in a complete game victory -- Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth. He allowed just three hits in seven strong innings, and when the offense finally exploded, the Giants had a second consecutive win.

In talking about the state of the Giants earlier in the week, Wood pointed out that they had a chance to get out of Arizona with at least one win and then try and play better baseball in San Diego. They did exactly that, winning on Wednesday and splitting with a Padres team that looks headed for October.

This was not a good road trip -- the Giants went just 3-4 and briefly dropped back to .500 on the season -- but the players found a way to salvage it, to grab some momentum after the worst stretch of the Gabe Kapler era.

The weekend ended with a couple of wins, but also a reminder that all the losing has consequences. Jake McGee, last year's closer, was designated for assignment on Saturday, a signal that big changes could be on the way if things do not consistently improve.

There already have been subtle changes to the lineup, and youth was on full display Sunday as the Giants beat up on Rookie of the Year candidate MacKenzie Gore and totaled 17 hits in a 12-0 win. With Joey Bart, David Villar, Yermin Mercedes and Thairo Estrada all starting, it was the type of lineup you might expect if the Giants did sell off some pieces, but Wilmer Flores was right in the middle of it and he led the way with four hits and a couple of homers.

"We've been waiting for this game for the past two weeks," he said on the postgame show, smiling.

The big hits are needed, but the best path forward is what Rodón and Wood gave the Giants the last two days. They built this roster around a rotation that they felt could be the best in the NL, and even with Anthony DeSclafani out for the year, the pieces are there for the group to lead a run.

RELATED: What we learned as Giants score 12 runs to back up Wood's gem

This was the Wood the Giants expected, the player they thought could give them a strong chance every five days behind the co-aces, Logan Webb and Rodón. Wood said Rodón set the tone Saturday and he was happy to keep the push going.

"We've been looking for a game like that to start to carry some momentum forward," he told reporters in San Diego.

"The boys came out banging today and played good defense and threw the ball well. It was just a good team win yesterday and today overall. Hopefully we gain some momentum going into the last week before the All-Star break and get back to where we need to be."