The offense exploded in tonight’s 8-3 win over the Padres. Brandon Belt was the hero of the night with a trifecta of three hits, three runs and three RBI. Mike Yastrzemski was 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI and three runs scored. Buster Posey was 3-for-4 with a walk, though he did not score a run and was thrown out at home (because he is, as I’m sure it will surprise you to find out, kind of a slow runner.)
Don’t let the score fool you, though, this was a pitching duel at one point in the game. Despite scoring two early runs on a Belt home run to the arcade in the first, both teams struggled offensively for the first five innings. Padres starter Dinelson Lamet went five strong innings of three run ball (two earned) striking out 10 and walking two while only allowing three hits. It wouldn’t be the Padres, though, if there weren’t errors and his team served him two. The Padres lead the National League in errors and are behind only two other American League teams.
Madison Bumgarner fared much better in his seven strong innings of work. It looked like he might get knocked out early again, with his pitch count high over the first three innings. However, he settled in and ended up allowing only four hits, one run and two walks, striking out nine. His lone run came on a solo shot from Manny Machado in the fourth inning. He was pulled after the seventh with 103 pitches. It didn’t hurt that his team would add three runs in the bottom of the inning to help ensure that he would get the win.
And with that win, Bumgarner ties Matt Cain with 60 home wins at AT&T/Oracle Park, a ballpark record. The team has won 11 of Bumgarner’s last 13 starts, and considering the rest of the rotation is basically the shrug emoji at this point, that’s been much needed for an often taxed bullpen.
Speaking of taxed bullpens, the second half of this game sure was a bit of a mess. Mostly for the Padres.
The Giants scored their third run of the night on a leadoff home run from Yastrzemski, but they really piled on in the seventh and eighth against Padres reliever Robbie Erlin, scoring five runs in two innings and Erlin just had to wear it.
The seventh inning started off with five consecutive singles by Yastrzemski, Belt, Evan Longoria, Joey Rickard (in for Alex Dickerson) and Posey for two runs. A sac fly from Kevin Pillar scored Longoria for the first out of the inning.
The eighth inning featured a leadoff double from pinch hitter Austin Slater who took third when Yastzremski grounded out, then Belt doubled him home. Longoria doubed past a diving Machado down the left field line to score Belt for the Giants’ eighth run of the night and the 13th hit.
Both Tony Watson and Tyler Rogers got into a bit of trouble in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing a run a piece, but the Giants’ damage had already been done and it was enough to break the losing streak and get Bruce Bochy one win closer to 2,000.
A note of grievance: earlier in the game, Pillar took a 97mph fastball to the chin by route of his shoulder and was not pulled from the game. I know people like to use that as a sign of “toughness” - especially the broadcasters. But for a team that has had the history of missed diagnoses on concussions that the Giants have had, it sure would be nice if they started showing, not an abundance of caution, but really any caution at all.
It was good to see Belt swinging the bat well again, following up on his splash hit last night. With the playoff hopes dwindling, questions like “Will Brandon Belt beat his single season home run record?” and “How many home runs CAN a Giants player hit this season?” are some of the few matters of intrigue left. But on the bright side, at least there IS still intrigue left for this team, which is a vast improvement on the last two seasons.
And games like this, especially the game Madison Bumgarner pitched tonight, feel more meaningful in a sentimental way. With Bochy retiring after the season and Bumgarner entering free agency, it shines a light on how quickly this era is coming to the end of its final chapter. And it’s clear that they are happy to be going through it together.
Bochy and Bumgarner had a moment after the trade deadline. "We both kind of hugged there, knowing he'd be there as I wrap things up," Bochy said. #SFGiants— Mark W. Sanchez (@MarkWSanchez) August 31, 2019
“I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King