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DENVER — In the middle of a 93-degree day at Coors Field, the Giants’ offense caught fire, launching baseballs toward the sun in a historic 19-2 rout of the Rockies.
By the conclusion of the evening portion of Monday’s doubleheader, the temperature had dropped more than 20 degrees and the Giants had mustered just two runs and six hits in nine innings.
The lack of UV rays and the lack of run support didn’t seem to matter. These days, there’s no cooling off the Giants.
Thanks to the efforts of five pitchers including starter Dereck Rodríguez, the Giants secured a 2-1 win to move within three games of the second Wild Card spot in the National League.
“I feel the momentum, you can sense it,” Rodríguez said. “You’ve got a team that’s winning and they’re having fun and you can feel the energy. You play off of it.”
The Giants (45-49) are still four games under .500 after sweeping Monday’s doubleheader, but they’ve pulled within three games of the second Wild Card position in the National League standings.
San Francisco sits behind six teams in the chase for the second Wild Card spot, but two wins and a Pirates loss allowed the club to leapfrog Pittsburgh on Monday.
The Giants took different paths to defeat the Rockies twice in a span of 10 hours, but they achieved the same result and won both games of a doubleheader for the first time since taking a pair from the Mets at Citi Field on April 23, 2012.
“I’m sure there’s some tired guys that were out there on that field, but it’s just a great day for us,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
After etching his name into the Giants’ record books alongside Willie Mays and Orlando Cepeda in Game 1 of Monday’s doubleheader, Brandon Crawford began his quest to write more history with a solo home run to right field off Rockies starter Chi Chi González in the top of the fourth inning.
His eight RBIs tied Mays and Cepeda for the most by a Giant in a single game since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco in 1958 while his third home run of the day inched him closer to the record of 11 RBIs in a calendar day held by Phil Weintraub and Irish Meusel.
Because Meusel’s 11 RBI performance took place on September 2, 1925 and Weintraub’s occurred on April 30, 1944, Crawford’s nine RBIs marked the most in a day by a Giants player in three quarters of a century.
Crawford’s fourth-inning home run off González came immediately after catcher Stephen Vogt blasted his third home run of the season out to right field. For the second time in as many games, the starting shortstop was involved as the Giants hit back-to-back home runs.
In the 19-2 romping over the Rockies in Monday’s matinee, Crawford’s first home run of the day preceded Mike Yastrzemski’s sixth home run on the season.
Unlike Game 1 starter Jeff Samardzija who was armed with a five-run lead from the moment he took the mound, Rodríguez pitched under pressure for five innings in Game 2.
“D-Rod, he came in tonight determined, he came in focused and he executed right from pitch No. 1,” Vogt said. “If there was anything I called, he executed all night and he gave us a chance to win in this park with two runs and that’s tough to do.”
Rodríguez hadn’t started for the Giants since May 10 when he allowed four runs in a shutout loss to the Reds as he spent part of the first half of the season in the bullpen. With Monday’s doubleheader looming after the All-Star break, San Francisco optioned Rodríguez to the minors on July 2 so he could rebuild his stamina as a starter and prepare to face Colorado.
Rodríguez pitched for both Triple-A Sacramento and Single-A San Jose and returned to the majors in an outing that delighted his manager.
“What a job he did, he had all his pitches working and it was just a terrific job,” Bochy said.
Despite shaky defense behind him, Rodríguez completed five innings and allowed just one run at a lively Coors Field. His efficient work gave Bochy the chance to turn the ball over to a bullpen that was in decent shape thanks to strong performances by Samardzija in Game 1 and Tyler Beede in Sunday’s 8-3 win over the Brewers.
“I wasn’t here for those two weeks that they were on a roll and I feel like I’ve been here the whole time,” Rodríguez said.
Over the final four innings, relievers Reyes Moronta, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson and Will Smith combined to keep the Rockies off the board and preserve the club’s 10th win in its last 12 games.