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Giants don’t blow a dominant Bumgarner outing

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Madison Bumgarner was as good as he’s been all season. Will Smith not so much.

Oakland Athletics v San Francisco Giants Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images

The Giants had this one in the bag all the way. It wasn’t even close really.

Okay, maybe it got a little hairy at the end.

It was fine really. Will Smith was on the mound, and he’s untouchable.

All right, I only barfed a little.

After capturing the hearts and minds of the nation with his heroics at the plate, Will Smith struggled harder than I remember seeing him. He escaped with the save by the narrowest of margins. Matt Chapman came within inches of clearing the bases. If it wasn’t divine providence sending that ball foul, it was that Joey Rickard is secretly an airbender and he blew it away.

The A’s had no designs of ever swinging at Will Smith’s slider and without his kill pitch, Smith is mortal. I want to say that it’s a testament to his talent that he managed to get out of that jam with just the one run allowed. That has to be partially true; luck is the residue of design and all that. Even with his power sapped from him, I still would have preferred Smith on the mound to Sam Coonrod. Even so, all it would have taken was a bloop single to completely ruin this game.

As soon as the Giants took the lead, they were in complete control of this game. Then they got extraordinarily lucky. It’s a good thing because it would have squandered yet another vintage Bumgarner outing.

In Bumgarner’s last two starts, he’s given up just one run in 14 innings on just three hits and one walk. One of those hits was a dropped popup that wasn’t called an error because Aramís García never got leather on it. The only mistake he made tonight was a missed fastball to Stephen Piscotty, but it’s hard to complain about one solo homer especially in 2019. Piscotty’s homer was the only ball Bumgarner allowed that was hit harder than one he hit himself.

In classic Bumgarner fashion, he was just as impressive at the plate as he was on the mound. He wound up hitless, but he torched the ball each time he came up except for the time he laid down a perfect bunt.

In his first plate appearance, Bumgarner just barely hooked a high fastball to the wrong side of the right field foul pole. Had he kept it fair, it might not have had home run distance, but it would have close. Only the beefiest of right-handed hitters can take on the Willie Mays wall, and I had never given much thought to Bumgarner doing it. That’s not because I didn’t think he could do it, he’s just a dead pull hitter. I’d sooner expect him to hit the Coke bottle than to go for the Cove.

Not two pitches after Bumgarner almost went oppo, he nearly hit one into Yaz country in right center. As far as I can tell, the only Giant to do that in the pitch tracking era (since 2008) is Hunter Pence who did it in 2014. You can follow this link for a video, but here’s a spray chart of all the homers hit by righties since 2008 that went to the opposite field.

The broadcast said that the only park where that would have been a homer was Yankee Stadium, but that can’t be right. Now that I know it’s possible, I want nothing more than for Bumgarner to hit an opposite field home run at Oracle Park. I would vastly prefer it while he’s still wearing a Giants uniform, but I won’t complain if it’s not.

Without a few clutch plate appearances, this would have been a good ole fashioned Caining. The Giants didn’t give themselves many opportunities, but they found ways to capitalize on what few they got. That sure doesn’t sound like the Giants, but I swear it’s true. The Giants took the lead with a two-out rally in the sixth, and that began with none other than Buster Posey.

Seeing Buster Posey drive balls into the opposite field gap isn’t so dissimilar from putting on a favorite album you haven’t listened to in years. The crack of the bat’s like the first note of a song you know by heart though you can’t remember the last time you sang it. Maybe it was on all the time three, four, five years ago, but you just stopped playing it for whatever reason. Turns out that Posey driving one into the gap still slaps harder than anything you’ve got on rotation right now.

Posey’s reprise might have been wasted if Matt Chapman were two inches taller. Evan Longoria just barely lined one over Chapman’s head to knock in Posey. Longoria’s double might have been wasted if Robbie Grossman’s arms were two inches longer, but that’d be gross, man.

As unbelievable as the Giants’ triple double in the sixth was, it was even more incredible that they didn’t strand two leadoff walks. García walked on four pitches, and Joey Rickard had a nice at-bat to get his. After Bumgarner bunted them over, Scooter Gennett came in as a pinch-hitter. Gennett says that he’s coming around and his contact over the last two games backs that up.

On Sunday, he put one into the water, and tonight he did the same thing. It’s just that tonight he hit it a good 50 feet foul. But he did smash a line drive that just hung in the air too long to bring in both runners. It was good enough for a sacrifice fly, and that’s better than the Giants usually do when they’re gifted baserunners.

With Moronta and Smith fresh in the bullpen, you wouldn’t think they would have needed that extra insurance run, and yet!

I’m going to go take an alka-seltzer.