SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants have been careful not to get too far ahead of themselves during this stunning July run, but they're human. They are just like you at home, although without the ability to tweet Vince McMahon GIFs during rallies. They can't help but think about the big picture.
A few minutes after another comeback win, Joe Panik couldn't help himself. He started to think of what the 5-4 win reminded him of.
"That eighth inning," Panik said, "That's October baseball at Oracle Park."
It was hard to argue. With seemingly half the house rooting for the visiting Cubs, Oracle Park had a raucous back-and-forth vibe on a Monday night. For nearly eight full innings, the visiting fans were having all of the fun.
But these Giants, one of the worst teams in baseball for three months, all of a sudden can't be put in the dirt. Trailing by two in the eighth, they got a leadoff double from Pablo Sandoval on a pitch that nearly scraped the dirt. Brandon Crawford's single squeezed just between two middle infielders to get the Giants within one. Kevin Pillar just barely beat out an inning-ending double play ball and scored when Austin Slater's drive to deep center climbed inches over Albert Almora's glove.
Panik put the finishing touches on, slicing a double down the left field line to send the ballpark over the edge. It's been a rough stretch for Panik, one during which he has lost playing time, but he was the hero on this night.
"It feels good," he said. "You want to feel like you're helping the team. I got fortunate to be put in that situation -- runner on second, go-ahead run on. It feels good. These guys have been battling hard, grinding hard. It definitely feels good to help them out and have a productive night."
Panik's three-hit game was his first since May 7 and couldn't have been timed better. He has lost time to Donovan Solano recently and entered the night with just one extra-base hit in his last 20 games.
But Bruce Bochy has kept the faith. He had his longtime second baseman in there for the first game of a huge three-game series.
"Solano, yeah he's in the mix more playing short and second, but Joe, you've got to stay with a guy who has a base-hit bat," Bochy said.
The final base hit Monday did the trick, putting the capper on a night when the Giants once again got contributions from all over. Drew Pomeranz, recently moved to the bullpen, struck out four in two scoreless bridge innings. Sam Dyson took over the ninth with Will Smith due a day off. He brought some "torture" back, but shut it down.
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Dyson's final out got the Giants to 51-50, putting them above .500 for the first time all season. They're a winning team for the first time since last August 14.
"I feel great for these guys," Bochy said. "The way they're fighting and battling back ... what a comeback."