PHOENIX - So much of the talk around the trade deadline focused around selling, but in the clubhouse, it was different. Players are glued to Twitter just as fans are, and in the days leading up to July 31, several asked reporters if they were hearing anything.
They were not concerned about a sale. They wanted to know if Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans would add to the roster for the stretch run.
The front office did not, in part because this team is right up against the luxury tax and cannot afford another veteran, and in part, frankly, because that same clubhouse has played .500 baseball the entire season. The group is the group, Sabean and Evans essentially said. If you're going to make a run, do it with the guys you have. Thus far, the clubhouse has responded.
The Giants came into Chase Field on a 108-degree night and got hot at the plate, winning 8-1 to grab a fourth consecutive win. After an ugly weekend at home, they are once again two games above .500, and they continue to trail just a few steps behind the NL West leaders.
They did it Thursday night in all sorts of ways. Madison Bumgarner was resilient. Evan Longoria reminded a fan base that, as much as it hurt to lose Pablo Sandoval, he was brought here to be the standout at third base. Austin Slater, Steven Duggar, Alen Hanson and Ray Black continued to show off a youth movement.
"That's what it's going to take," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We can't dwell on what happened. Those are tough losses (in Johnny Cueto and Sandoval), but you hear me say it so many times, it's all about focusing forward. Some guys are going to get great opportunities."
Duggar was not impacted by injuries. He already had taken over the job in center, but Slater, still just 25, has the most to gain. Sandoval is done for the year with a hamstring tear and Brandon Belt could be 10 days away from returning. That mostly leaves first base to Slater, who has hit at every professional level. He had two hits and a walk Thursday, raising his average to .323. His single up the middle was the big blow in a five-run eighth.
"It's exciting for me," Slater said. "I look forward to the opportunity and the challenge. I might not have that much experience (at first) but I try to pick up on little things."
He's doing that in a unique way. Slater said he's taking full advantage of four games with the Diamondbacks, closely watching Gold Glove winner Paul Goldschmidt to see if he can pick up on nuances of playing first base.
"You watch his game and he does everything right," Slater said.
The Giants did not on Thursday, but they were close. Longoria got it going with a solo shot in the top of the first and saved two runs in the bottom of the inning by diving for a stop. Bumgarner did not let that go to waste, repeatedly finding his way through traffic jams. He gave up seven hits and walked three, but allowed just one run in five innings. He also drove in a run.
The Giants have wasted so many Bumgarner gems over the years. He went eight innings in his last start and took the loss. On this night, he fought his way through five and then watched the lineup - full of young contributors - do the rest.
"It was a grind," Bumgarner said. "That's one of those games when my back is kind of against the wall the whole time out there. Those types of games are gratifying to keep your team in it."