PHOENIX — As the second half of the season commences, both Arizona and San Francisco have reasons to feel confident as they prepare for the third game of a three-game weekend series Sunday.
Both are nearing full health, and the NL West remains wide open as the Diamondbacks, Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are within 3 1/2 games of each other entering July.
Arizona survived a 2-15 stretch in May and is playing as well as it did in the early going, when it did not lose any of its first 12 series. The Giants have won nine of 11 after going 18-10 in June, their first winning month since June, 2016.
“I know that we got off to a great start and hit a little downturn and fought back,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said when asked about his takeaways from the first half.
“The obvious thing is, we are playing very good baseball now. We’ve grown and learned and become stronger and tougher because of the situation we walked through in May. They have never pointed their finger at anything or any anyone in an particular situation or moment.
“When it didn’t go well, they were accountable. They played united baseball. We’re right in the middle of a story that we continue to want to tell the way we are telling it.”
Arizona right-hander Zack Godley will oppose Giants left-hander Derek Holland in the final game of the series at Chase Field on Sunday afternoon. The Giants begin a three-game series in Colorado on Monday while the Diamondbacks will host a three-game series against St. Louis.
“Considering everything that is happened, we are right in the thick of things, which is where you want to be,” San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said.
“If you would have told me what we have to deal with – three starters out, (Joe) Panik out, (Evan) Longoria out. Sure, no question you take it. I think it is going to be tight in September. Hopefully we’re right there. That’s our plan.”
Right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija could made their next starts in the majors after prolonged absences due to injury, and Cueto would be particularly welcome. He was 3-0 with an 0.84 ERA in five starts while holding opponents to a .150 batting average before going on the disabled list because of shoulder soreness in the first week of May.
In the interim, Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Suarez have pitched well. The Giants also have received only five starts from Madison Bumgarner, who opened the season on the disabled list before returning in early June.
Arizona outfielders A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. also are nearing a return from the disabled list after missing considerable time. The Diamondbacks also lost starters Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray for 58 days before returning.
Pollock and Souza Jr. are on rehab assignments for Triple-A Reno, and Pollock is likely to return before the All-Star break. Pollock was slashing .293/.349/.620 with 10 doubles, 11 homers and nine stolen bases in 43 games before suffering a fractured thumb trying to make a diving catch in center field in the ninth inning of a 7-2 loss to Milwaukee on May 14.
“You think about what the (injury) losses are,” Lovullo said “It’s been a very interesting season. I think the most resilient teams are the ones that understand and accept what’s happening day by day, whether it is good or bad, and move on to the next day as quickly as possible.
“We are a resilient group. We can turn the page quickly, no matter what the results are.”
Godley, 9-5 with a 4.58 ERA, is one victory short of NL leaders Max Scherzer, Jon Lester and Aaron Nola, in part because he has received 4.63 runs of support in his 16 starts. His 1.52 WHIP is 44th and last among qualified NL starters, and he has made seven quality starts.
Godley is 1-1 with a 6.10 ERA in two starts against the Giants this season and is 2-2 with a 6.97 ERA in six career appearances, four starts, against them. Godley has pitched his best at home this season, going 4-1 with a 2.89 ERA in six starts.
Holland (5-7, 4.24) is coming off arguably his best outing of the season, although he did not receive a decision in a 3-2 victory over Colorado. Holland gave up one run on six hits in a season-high 6 2/3 innings while striking out a season high eight. It was his longest appearance since he went eight innings against Seattle on May 21, 2017.
He is 0-1 in two starts against the Diamondbacks, both with Texas. Holland is 3-5 with a 3.94 ERA in nine road starts this season. He has never pitched in Chase Field.