With their high-profile addition already showing the possibilities for the road ahead, the new-look San Francisco Giants will take MLB's best record on the road Monday to face the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kris Bryant, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Cubs on Friday, hit a home run Sunday in hisdebut with his new team. The host Giants earned a 5-3 victory over the Houston Astros and won two of three games in the weekend series.
Bryant's arrival comes at the perfect time for a Giants team that won't mind the lift. No team can match San Francisco's 66-39 record, but they are just 9-7 in the second half.
Despite falling off of their first-half pace over the first few weeks following the All-Star break, the Giants are 5-2 against the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers in that span and are 28-16 this season against NL West clubs overall.
Bryant's home run Sunday gave him 19 on the season. The former National League rookie of the year (2015) and MVP (2016) also has a .267 batting average and an .866 OPS.
The Giants entered play Monday with an NL-best .766 OPS and Bryant's presence figures to make that even better.
"I just want to be here and help this team and do all I can," Bryant said Sunday. "Going from one historic franchise to another, I feel super grateful. I don't know why I deserve this, but it's been really cool to experience this so far."
Combining their hitting with the third-best ERA in the NL at 3.37, the Giants' emergence as a contender is no fluke, even if their arrival from rebuilding mode is a bit earlier than expected.
Next man up for one of the NL's top pitching staffs is right-hander Anthony DeSclafani (10-5, 3.10 ERA), who will face Arizona for the third time since June 16. He is 2-0 with a 1.98 ERA against the Diamondbacks this season and in eight career outings against them he is 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA in 53 2/3 innings.
The Diamondbacks will counter with rookie right-hander Taylor Widener (1-1, 4.42), who is making his ninth career start. Widener is having a tough time of late, giving up five runs in consecutive outings, July 20 against the Pittsburgh Pirates and Tuesday against the Texas Rangers.
Widener did have two relief appearances against the Giants last season, going 1 2/3 scoreless innings in one, while giving up three runs on four hits over two innings in another.
The complete opposite of the Giants, the Diamondbacks have MLB's worst record at 33-73. And while they had shown a better brand of baseball with a recent run of seven victories in 10 games, Arizona enters after losing consecutive games to the Dodgers, including a 13-0 decision on Sunday.
The Diamondbacks were outscored 18-0 over the final 12 innings of the Dodgers' series.
"Look, I know we were one game under .500 (in July), but I was proud of these guys, for all of the things we fought through as a group and all of the adversity we faced," Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. "We've started to do it right and when we do it right, I can sleep at night and say, 'We got beat and didn't beat ourselves.'"
--Field Level Media