Giants' 6-3 2021 start best since 2016 thanks to familiar formula

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Alex Pavlovic
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Familiar formula has Giants off to best start since 2016 originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was just a blip on the radar when the Giants had to move the annual Bay Bridge exhibition series to Arizona this year, but perhaps it shouldn't have been. The team ended up spending all spring in Scottsdale, then flying directly to Seattle for the start of the year, and then to San Diego. 

When the Giants returned to Oracle Park, so much about the experience was brand new, particularly for the players who are new to the organization. That meant LaMonte Wade Jr., a taxi squad outfielder who was called up Sunday morning, never got to judge a fly ball at Oracle Park until one came at him in the third inning. It meant Anthony DeSclafani, one of the latest reclamation projects, never got to dig into the dirt at Third and King until the start of Sunday's game. 

Parts of this experience might still be unfamiliar to the Giants, but it certainly didn't look that way over the weekend. 

Wade Jr. reached base three times in his first Giants game, Alex Dickerson and Brandon Belt homered, and DeSclafani did the rest in a 4-0 win over the Rockies. Back in front of their fans for the first time in a year and a half, the Giants got a sweep to improve to 6-3. 

"That's pretty awesome, and anybody who has watched our offense knows it's not where it's going to be or could be and we're still managing to win baseball games," Belt said. "It's a testament to how great our pitching has been so far and we've played good defense, as well. We've got a lot of different ways we can win baseball games and that's a great feeling to have."

The 6-3 start is the best since 2016, when the Giants also started 6-3 behind a strong rotation. This year's starting five doesn't have the same kind of star power, but it has been a strength. DeSclafani gave the group nine consecutive solid starts, and he was much closer to spectacular, striking out eight in six innings. 

"He really looked like a confident dude coming out of the bullpen," manager Gabe Kapler said. 

DeSclafani has allowed just one run over his first two starts in orange and black, but that line was in serious jeopardy in the sixth. That's when the Giants learned quite a bit about their new right-hander. 

The Rockies put two on with one out in a 2-0 game, but DeSclafani, who got 17 swinging strikes, pulled his best breaking ball out to strike out Josh Fuentes. He went to the heater for the final out of his day, blowing a 94 mph sinker past Sam Hilliard to end the threat. 

"It looked like, particularly in the sixth, he reached back to kind of empty the tank," Kapler said. 

DeSclafani has shown to have plenty to reach back for early on, just like the rest of the staff, one of a couple huge changes from this time a year ago. The other noticeable one is just how clean the baseball has been, with DeSclafani throwing in another nice defensive play from a pitcher and Belt alertly taking second when the Rockies lost track of him. That led to the second run of the game. 

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The little things left Kapler smiling, but on the bench, the Giants were ready to start getting greedy, and they'll have to do it. The Cincinnati Reds are coming to town and they lead the Majors in runs, so at some point the offense will need to carry an equal share. There were more signs of life Sunday, and Kapler said Belt leaned over before one at-bat and said he thought it was all about to come together. 

"We're still not where we can be offensively," Kapler said. "It has a chance to be exciting if it starts to click."

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