Two lefties pitchers sporting the number 40 took the mound today for the final game of the series where Madison Bumgarner out pitched Alex Wood as the Giants completed the sweep against the Braves, 4-1
Bumgarner, who has been battling with a mechanical flaw, seemed to have rectified the issue showing crisper pitches and sharper command. Bumgarner had easy velocity, mixed pitches, and showed mental toughness as he pitched out of several runners-in-scoring-position jams to limit Atlanta to just one run. Bumgarner’s final line for his 3rd win of the season: 6.0 innings pitched, three hits, one run, one walk, and nine strikes outs.
The Giants offense, who had only scored via solo home runs in the Braves series, were finally able to cash in on a non-big-fly-run that started with a lead-off double by Hunter Pence (2-for-5) who later advanced to third base on a wild pitch by Wood. A ground ball off the bat of Buster Posey was called a catcher’s interference and the Giants were given the choice of recording Posey’s out and scoring Pence or letting Posey reach safely. Bruce Bochy opted for the run, knowing the Giants are hitting .178 with RISP in their last 19 games.
The Braves didn’t stay quiet for long as Ramiro Pena singled in the third as the first hit and baser runner for Atlanta. A sacrifice bunt dropped by Wood should have been an easy out but an errant throw by Bumgarner advanced Pena to third. Jason Heyward then popped a long sac fly to Angel Pagan, cashing in on an RBI as Pena crossed home plate and to tie the score, 1-1.
In the fourth, the Giants continued their solo home run tradition when Brandon Crawford (hitting .433 against lefties) continued to impress against southpaw pitching by knocking the ball out and putting the Giants up, 2-1.
The Braves tried to rally back in fifth by putting Chris Johnson abroad with a single but ultimately didn’t take advantage when Dan Uggla popped a long fly ball to Michael Morse who made a great play to keep a run from scoring. Not quite Gregor Blanco-esque, but Giants fans may not be giving enough credit to Morse and his defensive abilities:
In the top of the eighth, Brandon Crawford reached a milestone when he crushed his second home run of the game to right field for his first multi-homer game of his career. This one was off a tough righty Jordan Walden and helps level out Crawford’s splits, which ironically (or maybe at this point, not surprisingly), are skewed towards lefties (.433 vs lefties, .158 vs. righties).
The Giants bullpen continued to be lights out, as Juan Gutierrez, Javier Lopez, and Jean Machi kept the score level with a collective line of 2.0 innings pitched, one hit, zero runs, one walk, and one strike out. Sergio Romo had a day off after working Friday and Saturday as Santiago Casilla came in in the ninth with a clean 1-2-3 inning and recorded his first save of 2014.
Not to end on a downer, but Giants are still struggling to score with runners in scoring position, leaving ten stranded. Thankfully the Braves, who are now in a six-game losing streak, were experiencing similar woes leaving six on base. It should be interesting to see how the Giants manufacture runs if and when the home run ball dries up.
The Giants move on to PNC Park in Pittsburgh tomorrow as Matt Cain (0-3, 4.35 ERA) faces off against the Pirates tomorrow at 4:05pm P