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Giants back near the top after impressive May

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NL Provides Slugging, AL Uses Pitching


The San Francisco Giants went from worst to first in less than a month.

Yes, that's noteworthy. No, it's not tremendously rare - at least not at this point in the season.

San Francisco was at the bottom of the NL West at the end of April, trailing first-place Los Angeles by 4 1/2 games. The Giants then went 21-9 in May, taking over the top spot briefly before falling back into second place this past weekend.

They are the sixth team in the last six seasons to be in last place at the end of April, and then reach first place at some point in May, according to STATS.

The Giants fell behind with an early eight-game losing streak this season, but an eight-game winning streak in May made it clear that the defending World Series champions were still going to be heard from. San Francisco has been without injured right-hander Matt Cain all season, and right-hander Jake Peavy has been limited to two starts.

Outfielder Hunter Pence was out with a broken arm until May 16, and the Giants are 12-4 since his return.

A couple other teams who were in last place at the end of April were also able to bounce back a bit. Cleveland went 17-12 in May, and Texas went 19-11 to pull above .500.

Here are a few other developments from around the majors:

RARE FEAT

It didn't feel like a particularly historic occasion when Dallas Keuchel of Houston struck out 11 and blanked the Chicago White Sox 3-0 on Saturday. But Keuchel was the first pitcher all season to throw a shutout while striking out at least 10.

In 2014, there were 12 games in which a pitcher pulled that off, with Madison Bumgarner and Jordan Zimmermann each doing it twice. But we're now about 30 percent of the way through this season, and Keuchel is the only one to do it.

As much as strikeout totals have climbed, shutouts by starting pitchers are becoming a rare sight. In fact, strikeouts can drive up pitch counts, making it harder for a starter to finish the game.

ZEROS

There was some thought that Wade Davis couldn't possibly repeat his 2014 season, when he posted a 1.00 ERA in 71 relief appearances for Kansas City. Well, this year he's pitched 22 innings and hasn't allowed a run.

Reliever Dellin Betances of the New York Yankees also has a 0.00 ERA, although he's allowed three unearned runs.

FANTASY FOCUS

Most fantasy players are familiar with the concept of streaming - putting an otherwise marginal starting pitcher in your lineup when you know he's about to face a bad offensive team, and then discarding him afterward.

This year, one team has far and away the fewest runs in baseball. That's Philadelphia, which is averaging 3.02 per game. Over the last few days, the Phillies were handled easily by Colorado's Chad Bettis and Eddie Butler, both of whom were probably available in all but the deepest of leagues.

Just something to keep in mind.

LINE OF THE WEEK

Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays, went 4 for 4 with two home runs, four RBIs and five runs in Toronto's 10-9 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday. Donaldson won this game with a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth.

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