This is how the Giants won this game. In the 2nd inning, Austin Slater hit an RBI groundout to second base with runners on second and third, and then Hunter Pence blooped a Texas Leaguer, and the Giants were up 2-0. In the third, Madison Bumgarner led the inning off with a double, and would come into score from third base on a wild pitch.
Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner threw six shutout innings and the bullpen only gave up a pair of hits while striking out five over three quiet innings, and the San Francisco Giants defeated the Colorado Rockies 3-0.
It was a very Giants-y win. And yet, almost none of that is what makes this game interesting.
Somehow, this game turned into the weirdest game of beanball with only the umpire (and eventually the fans) thinking things had turned into angerball.
In the third inning, Madison Bumgarner hit DJ LeMahieu on his arm with a 91.4 MPH fastball. In the moment, nothing seemed weird, since Giant-killer Nolan Arenado was next, to hit now with a man on base. Arenado hit a ball hard to deep center, but not deep enough at AT&T Park, and the inning ended. And then everyone noticed Madison saying something to the Rockies bench, as he headed to the dugout to lead off the next inning.
Quickly, Madison showed Arenado how to hit to center field, hitting a double over Charlie Blackmon’s head, and ending up at second base. And Bumgarner turned to DJ LeMahieu…and apparently apologized, telling him (as he’d said at the end of the top half of the inning) that it wasn’t intentional. And that seemed to be that…until it wasn’t.
With Bumgarner standing on third, Rockies starting pitcher Jason Márquez threw a changeup right into the center of Longoria’s back to load the bases. It wasn’t intentional. Longoria took his base, Márquez seemed regretful (maybe because he now had the bases loaded).
And the rookie home plate umpire, Ramon DeJesus, jumped out between the mound and the plate, and emphatically warned both benches. He was so emphatic that Márquez seemed to think he’d been ejected. Everyone seemed confused. Even Bumgarner, standing on third base, was diplomatically trying to explain to the third base umpire Gabe Morales that nothing was intentional and none of the players were angry at each other.
And then Márquez let a changeup get away, and he rung Austin Slater’s bell. And by bell, I mean head.
The pitch was a glancing blow. It hit the back of Slater’s helmet, and the ball ricocheted towards the Giants’ bench and the helmet flew off Slater’s head. Slater didn’t go down. He bent over, and then told the umpire and catcher he was fine, and it was fine, and he got ready to move to first.
I’ve got no doubt that there was no intent behind Márquez’s pitch there. The Rockies best pitcher was having a weird night, a wild night, and was soon out of the game. Remember, his third inning had a wild pitch that let the Giants’ third run score. But a guy got hit in the head after both benches were warned, and the rookie umpire did not eject Márquez. He was probably right, with it being a likely accident. But it’s still weird to see one of the most dangerous places on a player to get hit actually get hit after a warning and not see the automatic hook.
In the end, it was a surprisingly dispassionate affair for all the bruises being left. A surprisingly dispassionate effort from the Rockies, who didn’t play like a team that was losing first place. But that’s what this game was.
When Bumgarner came out for the sixth inning, the bullpen was active. Why? Don’t exactly know. Bumgarner had 52 pitches.
Bumgarner threw a curveball, and then threw a slider that missed near the batter’s feet, and suddenly the trainer was out with Bochy and Hundley to talk to Bumgarner, and every Giants fan winced. Bumgarner finished the inning, and that was his last inning. 6 innings, 5 hits allowed, no runs, one walk, two strikeouts, one hit batter. 64 pitches. It wasn’t Bumgarner’s best game, but it was hardly a bad one against a very good hitting team.
Kuiper said something looked weird on Bumgarner’s fourth inning at-bat. He had a big swing-and-miss to start the at-bat, and took his time getting back in the box, but it just looked like he was picking his nose. Kuiper noted his next pitch he took a fastball down the plate, and he did look oddly uninterested in swinging, and the next pitch was a weak swing to strike out. I didn’t see anything that worried me in that at-bat. Bumgarner looked listless, but not injured.
But he got a weird visit from the trainer, and apparently the coaches knew something was wrong with the bullpen active. And he got lifted while pitching a very good game.
After the game, Bochy said Bumgarner had tightness in his side, indeed after that at-bat, but damn, I’m feeling worried about this. (Bochy said he’s expected to make his next start.)
STOP HITTING GIANTS PLAYERS IN THE HEAD.
Seriously, I’ve had enough of these concussions and what it can cost players. And how it’s not obvious if someone has something.
Slater got his bell run, but didn’t go down, and seemed fine as he went to first base. And then he was sent on a hit-and-run. Pence hit the ball directly to the right fielder, like Derek Carr to the Rams’ secondary. And Slater hit second and kept running to third, as he was doubled off of first.
Did Slater forget the number of outs, running towards the dugout thinking Pence’s out was the third? Did he misread the signals of Ron Wotus at third, if he even looked? Was his mind on something else or somewhere else?
Watching Mac Williamson and Brandon Belt post concussions the past two seasons is anger-inducing. Makes me wonder about Heliot Ramos’ season, after his was ended last year with a ball to the head.
I hope Slater is okay. He seemed okay in the postgame interview with Amy G. But that means nothing. I don’t think we’ll know for sure by the end of tonight, or even tomorrow.
Pre-game, news came down that Brandon Belt was getting an MRI on his bothersome right knee, and was probably headed for season-ending surgery to “clean it out.”
Get ready to hear about the injury prone Brandon Belt in the offseason, at least.
Belt was unable to play all nine innings in Friday night’s game, being taken out after the sixth inning. With this season not meaning much other than playing spoilers in a crazy NL Wild Card and NL West race, it might make sense to let Belt heal. But still, it’s been one of those kinds of years.
Let’s say Belt is shut down.
Normally, Posey would be playing first base, to rest his legs. But Posey’s been shut down.
Since it’s September, Ryder Jones would be up to play third and first off the bench. But he dislocated his kneecap and is out.
Austin Slater has been playing first a bit since Posey went down. Slater got a pitch to the head today.
What I’m trying to say is, get ready for Chase D’Arnaud, first baseman.
Lost in everything, in the second inning, Madison Bumgarner threw a high fastball past a swinging Charlie Blackmon. Blackmon’s swing was so awkward, it pulled his feet off the ground, and he fell on his backside and that enormous eyeblack he wears hid the blush of embarrassment he must have had.
I still can’t find the gif of it on Twitter. I’m pretty sure it’s not my job to make the gifs. But whomever’s job it was, they were not on the ball tonight.
I’m angry at you, Giants Twitter.
Hunter Pence got the second RBI of the game with a silly little Texas Leaguer that was perfectly hit and placed in shallow center field. And then Henry Shulman decided to spoil one of the Giants’ major remaining questions:
Ballots for Willie Mac Award were being passed out today in the clubhouse. Might as well put Pence's name on the trophy now. (Also won in 2013, two days before he was given the more coveted $95 Million Award). #SFGIants https://t.co/a73nwqqraT— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) September 16, 2018
Okay, everyone knows that Pence is on his San Francisco farewell tour. The Reverand from 2012, the leader of the ‘Yes Movement’ (stolen shamefully from the WWE and Daniel Bryan), and one of the goofiest, most fun, most relatable players in recent Giants’ history.
Him getting the Willie Mac award would be great. It’s also pretty obvious. And it makes one wonder what the clubhouse will be like next season.
Let’s give a couple of nice shoutouts.
- Evan Longoria was 2-for-3 and had a very nice play on a sharp ground ball at third. Like it or not, Longoria is the third baseman of the future, and while no one should’ve expected him at his peak. He’s been streaky this season, with it interrupted by a broken hand, but he’s batting .283/.320/.457 in 12 games in September.
- Mark Melancon gave up a double to Nolan Arenado. That’s a positive, because it isn’t a home run. He struck out two of the other three batters he faced. Can’t complain.
- Tony Watson struck out the side, now with 62 strikeouts in 61.1 IP. Watson was ice in the first half of the season, but has been shakier in the second half. That’s encouraging to see. Watson signed a 3-year contract before this season, and Bobby Evans has to be hoping Watson continues to lock it up, to have a positive signing to point to.
The Giants beat the Rockies. The Giants won.
Why do I feel like this wasn’t quite a good thing?