Madison Bumgarner is on the bump tonight for the Giants’ first in a three-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park. The last time Bumgarner pitched against the Phillies was April 17, 2012, also at AT&T Park. Joe Blanton started for the Phillies. The Giants won that game, 4-2, thanks to a strong outing by Bumgarner, some nice situational hitting by the Giants, and three shutout innings from the Giants bullpen. Bumgarner pitched six innings total, giving up two runs on seven hits and one walk and striking out two.
The surprise of the night came from Buster Posey. Remember, it was Posey’s first season back after sitting out most of 2011 with a reconstructed left leg. If there was concern about how Posey would perform on his return, this game went a long way in alleviating it. Posey went 3-for-4 at the plate. More encouraging, however, was when he put his leg to the test before 42,000+ by stealing third base in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Yep, Buster Posey stole third base.
The throw from Philly catcher Carlos Ruiz beat the none-too-fast Posey by a country mile, but thanks to a headfirst slide by Posey and a high tag by Philly third baseman Placido Polanco, Posey’s left hand touched the bag before Polanco’s glove brushed Posey’s shoulder. The stolen base would set up the Giants’ final run of the game as Posey scored on a ground ball to Blanton by Brandon Crawford.
“It kind of surprised all of us,” Bruce Bochy later said of Posey’s steal. “He knows if they forget about him at second base he has the green light to go. I think he thought he was moving faster than he was and made a nice slide to avoid the tag.”
Even if you’re not Superman, it helps to feel like Superman.
Tonight, Cliff Lee toes the rubber for the Phillies. Last Wednesday, Lee went six innings against the Cleveland Indians, giving up five runs on nine hits and two walks and striking out four. The Indians won that game, 6-0.
Yesterday, I wrote about the Jekyll & Hyde nature of Giants starting pitching so far this season: allowing wild, big run early innings before calming down and pitching clinical gems. Well, the potion seems to have made its way to Fresno, where the Giants’ Triple-A affiliate Grizzlies play. Grizzlies pitcher Yusmeiro Petit gave up a three-run home run in the very first inning to Tacoma Rainiers’ third baseman, Alex Liddi. Petit then went on to pitch beautifully the next five innings, giving up just one run, striking out thirteen, and walking none. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for the Grizzlies to win. They lost 4-2. Petit just missed tying Tim Lincecum’s single-game strikeout record of 14 for the Grizzlies.
Fortunately, Madison Bumgarner has yet to imbibe the potion. In fact, he was spectacular all the way through last night against the Padres, going six innings and giving up just four hits and two runs. He struck out ten and gave up no walks.
In fact, it was a downright typical Giants game, for a change, a low-scoring tie into the ninth that was decided by an Angel Pagan double driving in Andres Torres. Giants win, 3-2.
The only unusual thing that happened last night was in the bottom of the sixth. And boy, was it unusual. Brandon Belt hit a bloop single into left field. Gregor Blanco moved him to second with a groundball single to right. That brought up Madison Bumgarner, whom 44,000+ fans in AT&T Park, everyone watching the game on television, and everyone listening on the radio expected to bunt. On the first pitch, Bumgarner did indeed square around to bunt. Then he pulled back his bat and slapped a ground ball right at Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera who tagged the passing Brandon Belt before throwing to second to force out Blanco. Padres second baseman Jedd Gyorko avoided Blanco’s slide and threw to first, nearly getting the triple play. But his off-balance throw bounced over the glove of first baseman Yonder Alonso.
I haven’t looked it up, but I’m pretty sure it would have been the first time in Major League Baseball history that two triple plays were turned in a single month.
After the game, Bumgarner said the decision to hit was his. Padres third baseman Chase Headley was playing in, expecting the bunt. Cabrera shifted to his right and Bumgarner saw a huge gap between Cabrera and second. Unfortunately, he hit the ball right at Cabrera.
Tonight, Tim Lincecum pitches, and for the first time this season Buster Posey will be catching him. So much for conspiracy theories.
Last year when Lincecum faced the Padres at AT&T Park for the first time in the 2012 season, he got the win, 2-1. He went eight innings, giving up three hits and no earned runs. He struck out five and walked four. The Padres got their only run in the third inning on a bases loaded sacrifice fly by Nick Hundley. The Padres led 1-0 until the bottom of the seventh when Brandon Belt hit a line drive double to center field that scored Melky Cabrera and Nate Schierholtz.
Lincecum pitching a nice three-hit game with no earned runs and Brandon Belt knocking in the winning runs? Yeah, let’s see that again tonight.