One year after fending off spoiler attempts as they outlasted the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League West race, the San Francisco Giants will be looking to deal the visiting Atlanta Braves a second straight costly blow when the clubs continue a three-game series on Tuesday.
The Giants (68-73), who have formally been eliminated in their bid for a division-title repeat, won a third consecutive game in the series opener on Monday. San Francisco got a lift from San Francisco Bay Area native Willie Calhoun in his debut with the team.
Acquired in a trade with the Texas Rangers in June, Calhoun performed well for the Giants’ Triple-A Sacramento affiliate, hitting .299 in 41 games before getting the call-up on Monday.
Born and raised north of Oakland in the city of Vallejo, Calhoun thrilled his old fans — and his new manager — with a sharp RBI single to right field in his first at-bat for the Giants. The second-inning hit scored Brandon Crawford with the first run of a 3-2 victory.
“His hit was huge for us,” Giants skipper Gabe Kapler said. “This is an opportunity to show everybody what he’s capable of.
“I’ve seen a lot of Willie over the years. When he’s going good, he’s as dangerous as they come.”
A six-year member of the Texas Rangers, Calhoun had played just one previous game against the Braves in his career. That came earlier this season for the Rangers, and he went 0-for-4 on April 29 in what ended up being his last game with Texas.
As was the case when he stepped in against Spencer Strider on Monday, Calhoun would be facing Atlanta right-hander Kyle Wright (17-5, 3.23 ERA) for the first time if given another start on Tuesday.
Wright was afforded an extra day of rest coming off his worst outing of the season, when he was roughed up by the Oakland Athletics for eight runs in four-plus innings on Sept. 6. He had won his previous four starts, allowing a total of three runs.
Braves manager Brian Snitker applauded his starting staff for its consistency this season, allowing him to do just minor tinkering like the Strider-Wright flip-flop.
“One of the keys to our success is our rotation,” he said. “When you have stability, it adds a lot. I think we’ve shown how important it is to have a consistent rotation.”
Wright has never pitched in San Francisco. He has faced the Giants just twice in his career, including as a starter in a 7-6 win on June 23 in Atlanta, when he allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings. He also faced the Giants in relief in 2019, and he will take the mound with a lifetime record of 1-0 with a 7.11 ERA against them.
A third consecutive defeat on Monday prevented the Braves (87-54) from gaining ground in the NL East on the first-place New York Mets (89-53), who had lost at home to the Chicago Cubs earlier in the evening.
Looking to extend Atlanta’s losing streak to a season-worst four straight will be Jakob Junis (4-5, 3.98 ERA). The Giants right-hander will be attempting to end a 10-game winless streak during which he is 0-4 with a 5.44 ERA.
He pitched well but took the loss in a 2-1 defeat at Milwaukee on Thursday, limiting the Brewers to two runs and three hits in six innings out of the bullpen.
Junis, 29, has never faced the Braves in his six-year career.
–Field Level Media