On Tuesday, it was the Giants' outfield that exceeded expectations in its rout of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
On Wednesday, it was the San Francisco bullpen’s turn to lead the way in a comeback from five runs down in Pittsburgh.
Giants relievers entered Wednesday with a 3.84 ERA (which ranked 14th in the majors) and averaging 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings (27th in the majors). On Wednesday, they pitched six scoreless innings and struck out nine.
The Giants joined the Texas Rangers as the only teams with two comebacks from five runs down to win this season.
Longtime closer Santiago Casilla got the final three outs for his 15th save. He’s well-established, but what about those who got this game to the finish line?
The Law won
Rookie reliever Derek Law pitched two scoreless innings with three strikeouts. He has two wins and a save with six strikeouts in his past three appearances.
Law is two years removed from Tommy John surgery, but he made the jump to the majors after only three appearances in Triple-A. The most impressive thing about him is his strikeout-to-walk rate (25-to-4). He has 12 strikeouts and one walk in his past 14 innings pitched, dating back to May 14.
The lefty specialist goes long
Three of the four outs Osich got were against left-handed hitters, who entered batting .163 against him. He passed the challenge against a tough right-handed hitter, getting Andrew McCutchen to fly out. (Jung Ho Kang also reached on an error.)
What makes Osich compelling is his fastball velocity. His heater averages a hair over 95 mph. There are 30 right-handed relievers who have made at least 25 appearances this season with an average fastball velocity of 95 mph. Osich is one of four lefties who has. Osich also keeps the ball on the ground. His 63 percent ground ball rate ranks 10th in the majors among those with at least 20 innings pitched.
The combination works well. Osich has 14 holds in 16 opportunities this season.
It has been a successful conversion to middle relief for Osich, whose previous claim to fame was pitching a no-hitter for Oregon State against UCLA and Trevor Bauer, who also had a good outing on Wednesday.
Strickland’s adjustment a work in progress
You might remember Hunter Strickland as the Giants pitcher who allowed six home runs in 8⅓ innings in the 2014 postseason. But this year’s Strickland is a different pitcher. His fastball averages 96 mph instead of 98, and it has two more inches of horizontal movement (the characteristics of a two-seamer, rather than a four-seamer) in to a left-handed hitter and away from a righty.
Strickland is still figuring out how to pitch at that velocity; opponents are batting an average of .229 against his fastball, up from .163 in 2015. But he got two outs to help the cause on Wednesday. Most notably, he has allowed one home run in 26⅓ innings pitched.
Cory Gearrin threw a scoreless eighth that extended a strong stretch. He has allowed one run in his past 13 innings. On Wednesday, he got two groundouts and a strikeout in a clean eighth inning.
Gearrin wins with his sinker, a pitch that has limited damage. He has allowed one home run in 31⅓ innings pitched this season.
If you noticed a pattern, it’s because there is one. Giants relievers have been very good in June, pitching to a 2.60 ERA, third lowest in the majors.
And keep this in mind with regard to the Giants and how they match up against the Cubs: Since April 21, when the Giants bottomed out at 7-10, the Giants are 39-17, best in the majors during that span and three games better than the Cubs.
Sarah Langs also contributed to this story