When Hunter Pence went back on the disabled list on June 2 — and expected to miss two months — the question was raised.
How would the San Francisco Giants survive without Hunter Pence?
The answer so far has been: Not so bad.
The Giants are 11-4 since June 2, thanks largely to their current eight-game winning streak.
The Giants are 27-8 in their last 35 games, the best 35-game mark for any San Francisco Giants team, best for the franchise since 1954.
They now have two eight-game winning streaks, which bookend that 27-8 stretch. They are 16-6 without Hunter Pence in the starting lineup for that 35-game stretch.
So how are the Giants pulling this off?
Two things: Excellent starting pitching and a weak schedule.
After the Giants took two of three from the Dodgers last week, they embarked on a 25-game stretch in which they would play 21 games against teams with sub-.500 records.
The only games against teams with winning records were the upcoming four against the Pirates.
That’s because when the Giants started on the 25-game stretch, the Pirates were hovering just above .500.
But now the Pirates have lost five straight and 10 of their last 11, and their record sits at 33-36 as the Giants arrive in town.
That makes 25 of 25 games against teams with losing records.
And the Giants are set up nicely heading into Pittsburgh with Madison Bumgarner (8-2), Johnny Cueto (10-1) and Jeff Samardzija (8-4) slated to start the first three games, while the Pirates counter with Jeff Locke (5-5), the celebrated TBA and Francisco Liriano (4-7). The Pirates’ ace Gerrit Cole is on the disabled list (So no shots of Cole facing his brother-in-law Brandon Crawford. Sorry).
Monday’s starter Locke has allowed 18 earned runs over his last two starts. Bumgarner has allowed 20 earned runs ALL SEASON.
This 25-game stretch (with games against the likes of the Brewers, Rays, Bucs, Phillies, A’s, Snakes, Rox and Padres) for the Giants would take them through July 17.
The Giants hope to have Pence back two weeks later.