The beginning of this game felt like it had the potential to be one of those games. And not in a bad way. For me, any time Madison Bumgarner takes the mound, the possibility of a no-hitter feels very real. He’s gotten close several times and it feels like he’s due.
I was starting to get nervous in the fourth inning, “Am I ready to write a ‘50 Awesome Things’ post?” I thought. Bumgarner had retired 11 batters and was at fewer than 40 pitches. Some excellent defensive plays had been made.
And then he gave up two back-to-back home runs and all of that was for nothing. Bumgarner has been averaging two home runs allowed in the last few starts, though, so even that didn’t seem too bad.
But, as is wont to happen, the wheels flew off later in the game and nothing mattered. The Giants lost. Because of course the Giants lost, haven’t you been paying attention?
Let’s start with the highlights. Gorkys Hernandez was very good in the outfield today. Like, very, very good. He made at least four fantastic catches all over the field. But nothing topped his first, when he robbed Tommy Pham of a home run at the top of the wall.
My goodness, what a catch. It called back memories of Juan Perez’s parkour-style catch in 2015 that was also, oddly enough, against the Cardinals.
Watching that live, it looked like there was no way that wasn’t a home run. It looked physically impossible for that ball not to go over the fence. And it did! But Hernandez grew wings and flew up and over the wall to snatch it back. You can almost hear Dikembe Mutombo in the background.
And Bumgarner appreciated it, you can see him mouth “Wow” after the catch and in the dugout, he is shown hugging Hernandez. As Kruk and Kuip noted during the broadcast, Bumgarner is not a man of many hugs so this one was truly special.
Speaking of Bumgarner, another highlight of the game was The Madison Bumgarner Special, a soaring mid-day shot to the left field tunnel to tie the game.
Somebody please let him do the Home Run Derby. pic.twitter.com/qWcUcm0Yon— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) September 3, 2017
Sometimes I think I take Bumgarner dingers for granted. I almost expect them, and then I see a stat like this:
Madison Bumgarner is the 1st pitcher w/at least three homers in four straight seasons since Earl Wilson did so 5 yrs in a row from 1964-68.— Janie McCauley (@JanieMcCAP) September 3, 2017
And it makes me realize what a fool I am. We’re witnessing greatness, even if the team is the opposite of that.
The dingers weren’t done yet, as Tim Federowicz came in to face a young rookie named Sandy Alcantara, who was making his very first MLB appearance in the eighth inning. His first pitch was quickly collected as memorabilia, and his third pitch quickly left the park. As most of the home runs in this game did, it sailed out over the left field wall.
Now it’s time for the lowlights. As mentioned above, Bumgarner has been giving up two home runs in every other game lately, so everything seemed fine, especially after he tied it up in the fifth. Unfortunately, Harrison Bader also hit a home run to start the sixth inning.
I mean, it was a hot day so it was almost to be expected that home runs would not be in short supply, but then Bumgarner walked Pham, and Jose Martinez hit a line drive that got through the outfield and Pham scored. Not to be outdone, Yadier Molina doubled in Martinez to give the Cardinals a three-run lead. That was really all it would have taken but they weren’t done yet.
Cardinals starting pitcher Luke Weaver, who looks approximately 14 years old and had an annoyingly good game, retired the Giants in order to finish the sixth but Madison Bumgarner’s game was done and Kyle Crick came in. And, boy, that did not go well. Not at all. He walked three, gave up two hits and two earned runs and left the bases loaded for Josh Osich. Turns out it was none other than Gorkys Hernandez at the wall, again, that saved the Giants from another implosion of epic proportions.
Some other things to note about this game:
Mac Williamson made his first start since getting called back up. And he looked good. I mean, he always looks good but this was for baseball reasons. He was seeing the ball really well as he racked up two doubles and two foul-filled battles that resulted in strikeouts. Williamson has been great in Sacramento lately so it will be fun to see what he does in Colorado this week.
Matt Moore pitched out of the bullpen. Which was weird. It was only the third time in Moore’s career where he’s ever pitched in relief. And he was good! He pitched two mostly clean innings. A high throw from Brandon Crawford to Buster Posey (playing first base at the time) allowed a hit to Luke Voit in the eighth, but Crawford redeemed himself by throwing Voit out on a fielder’s choice to end the inning.
Moore came back out and pitched a clean 9th inning, which allowed Bochy to rest the remainder of the pen for their upcoming trip to dinger-town.
Hunter Pence had a hat trick, striking out three times. And Pablo Sandoval is still hit-less in his last roughly 30 at-bats. Look, I don’t know the exact number it’s up to and you don’t really want to know anyway. But it’s not good.
Anyway, the Giants are heading to the clown-car of terrors known as Coors Field to play an early Labor Day game tomorrow. Should be fun. The Rockies are just barely holding on to a Wild Card spot and maybe the Giants can play spoiler. Or they’ll help turn things around for them. I could get behind rooting for the Rockies in the playoffs.
/thinks about it for a minute
Oh god, playoff baseball at Coors Field?
Finish them, Giants.