San Francisco Giants Morning Minute: Starters Keep Rolling, Pence Keeps Hustling

May 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; The San Francisco Giants celebrate a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; The San Francisco Giants celebrate a 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports /

On this edition of the San Francisco Giants Morning Minute, we discuss the pitching keeping on track, Pence always hustling, and a pitcher on the moon.

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Good morning, San Francisco Giants’ fans, and welcome to another edition of the Giants Morning Minute. On Wednesday, the Giants kept their momentum rolling with another win, beating the Padres 2-1 for their seventh consecutive win. Johnny Cueto earned his sixth win of the year, tying him for second in the National League behind Chicago Cubs’ ace Jake Arrieta and his seven wins. Drew Pomeranz took the loss for the Padres.

With their seven-game win streak, the Giants are 24-18, a season-high six games on the winning side. The Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers both lost on Wednesday, putting the Giants 2.5 games ahead in the NL West.

Here’s what when on Wednesday night.

1 – Johnny Cueto Shimmies to Another Win

It’s not exactly breaking news that the Giants’ starters are pitching extremely well of late, and Cueto kept that streak up on Wednesday. In his second complete game of the season, Cueto shut down the Padres’ offense again, giving up just four hits and one run in nine innings, striking out eight while walking two.

Giants’ starters haven’t allowed more than two runs in any of their last eight outings. They’ve been the driving force behind the team’s first extended winning streak of the season, and they are settling into a groove as the season has passed the quarter mark.

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Cueto even figured out how to get Giant killer Brett Wallace out. In the second inning, Wallace doubled and later scored, giving him six hits in seven at-bats against Giants’ pitching this season (and 10-61 [.164] against everyone else). After that, Cueto retired him three straight times, including a strikeout in the ninth inning. That dropped his average all the down to .600 against the Giants.

This is the first time Giants’ starters have thrown complete games on back-to-back days since 2002, when Livan Hernandez and Jason Schmidt did so on August 19th and 20th, respectively.

And speaking of going deep into games…

2 – Relax and Take off Your Jackets, Bullpen

Cueto gave the Giants’ bullpen another day off, which gives them three consecutive days without work following Monday’s off-day and Madison Bumgarner‘s complete game on Tuesday. Even Everyday George Kontos, activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, has been forced to sit and watch.

While the bullpen will need some work here soon, days off are definitely not a bad things. The Giants set a franchise record with 546 reliever appearances last season, and by the end of the year, many guys just looked worn down from all the work. The pitches they’re saving now will certainly come in handy later.

3 – Hunter Pence‘s Non-Stop Hustle

If you’re a little league coach, you don’t want your kids watching the way Hunter Pence swings a bat or throws a ball. But you definitely want them to watch the Pence always hustle at every moment. He put that on display Wednesday night.

In the top of the sixth inning, Pence chopped a harmless groundball back to Padres’ pitcher Drew Pomeranz. When the pitcher came off the mound and made his throw, he bounced the ball in front of first baseman Wil Myers, who had to pick it up off the ground. Normally, that’s not much of a problem. Most players wouldn’t be pushing it 100 percent down the line on a comebacker. Pence isn’t most players.

Pence was running as hard as he always does, and that big time hustle allowed Pence to reach first on the error. So kids, maybe you shouldn’t swing like Hunter, but you should always work as hard as he does.

4 – Pitcher on the Moon

This doesn’t really have much to do with anything, but I thought it was pretty cool. In the top of the eighth inning, CSN Bay Area showed a view of the pitcher’s mound from high above the stadium, and it looked like Padres’ pitcher Brandon Maurer was standing on the moon.

So, do with that what you will.

Next: Giants Morning Minute: Bumgarner Dials In

And that will do it for this edition of the Giants’ Morning Minute. Up next, the Giants conclude their series with the Padres, looking to finish their first undefeated road trip of seven or more games since 1913. Jeff Samardzija will look to keep pace with the rest of the starters, while James Shields is tasked with salvaging the series and giving the Padres their first win against the Giants this year.