Despite losing to the Nationals at AT&T Park on Wednesday, the Giants ended up taking two of three games from Washington and won yet another series. The team has been playing very good baseball of late and surprisingly, haven't lost a series since their first road trip to Southern California in mid-April.
The main reason why the Giants have gone 16-7 over their last 23 ballgames is because of their pitching, both starting and relief, but the  offense really came alive in the first two games of the Nationals series. The offense combined to score 20 runs in the first two games, despite getting shutout in the third. Not only were the 20 runs the most the Giants have scored in back-to-back games this season, it's the most they've scored in a series this year, period. The two guys who really carried the Giants offense in the series were Randy Winn and Pablo Sandoval. The Giants young third basemen had 6 hits (3 for extra bases) along with 5 RBI and a huge walk-off home run that won the game for the Giants on Tuesday night. Sandoval has been swinging the bat pretty good lately, so his steady performance wasn't anything new, but Randy Winn's performance over the last few games has been a huge improvement to what he's done over the last couple of weeks. In a 3-game stretch from May 10-12, Winn went 9-14 with 5 RBI, 8 runs and a stolen base. Over those games, he's seen his batting average spike about 50 points and he's been moved back to the middle of the batting order. With Manny Burriss now swinging a steady bat and Travis Ishikawa and Aaron Rowand even providing multi-hit games over the last week, the Giants' offense is the strongest it's been this season.
The offense hasn't gotten all the headlines over the past couple of games though. There was another monumental win for the Randy Johnson as the 45-year old won his 298th game of his career on Monday, striking out 9 batters over 5 innings of work. Johnson has had somewhat of a seasaw season over the first 5 weeks, but the Giants have to feel pretty good about what they've gotten from the Unit overall. I'd like to see his era drop a bit, and I think it will in due time, but he's got to start keeping the ball in the yard. Johnson has given up 10 jacks in just 36 innings pitched, a ratio of 1 every 3.5 innings, and that's been his main issue. Two of his last 3 starts though have been solid, 9 strikeout/0 walk performances, and it wouldn't surprise me if RJ gets win #300 within his next few starts.
The other 2 starters from series vs. the Nats were pretty solid as well. Matt Cain gave his standard 7 strong innings, although he did allow 9 hits and 4 earned runs and wasn't credited with an  official "quality start". It was just the second time in seven starts this season that Cain failed to record a quality start, but in those two that he didn't, he still threw the ball pretty darn well. It's really good to see him getting some run support this year, and because of that, his 3-1 record is the best it's been at this point since 2006. Barry Zito, who got the start Wednesday, is also having his best statistical season since 2006. Unfortunately for Zito though, he's suffered the same tough luck that Matt Cain has so many times over the last 2 seasons, and he's really gotten no offensive support on nights in which he takes the ball. Zito had another solid outing on Wednesday, going 6+ innings allowing 4 runs on 8 hits while striking out 5. Zito suffered another loss and saw his record fall to 1-3, but Zito's been better than the 1-3 record, that's for sure. His line on Wednesday looked worse than it actually was too, as 2 of the runs charged to Zito scored after he left the game (runs scored on a broken bat, bloop single over the infield). Needles to say, Zito has rebounded, and while he's still not worth the $18 million he's being paid this season, he's become an above average major league starting pitcher again and is starting to look more like the pitcher the Giants thought they were getting when they signed him after 2006.
Extras: The Giants made a small roster move on Tuesday, demoting Osiris Matos back to Fresno and replacing him with Pat Misch who had a 2.12 era in 11 games as a reliever for Fresno. Misch had struggled mightily the last 2 years as a starter, so maybe he's found a home in the bullpen full-time... The Giants have a tough outer-division foe rolling into San Francisco for 4-game set starting Thursday as the NL East-leading Mets make their 2009 trip to San Francisco.. Interleague play starts up next weekend as the Giants will travel to Seattle from the 22nd-24th, and I'm really hoping Jesus Guzman may get a call-up by that time and serve as the DH in the series. Guzman has 5 hits in his last 2 games for Fresno and is carrying a .359 batting average.
Trevor Cole The San Francisco Giants Blog