It’s a shame that Madison Bumgarner’s best start of the season didn’t get top billing. Same goes for Brandon Crawford’s two-run home run that broke a 0-0 tie in the fifth inning. But the San Francisco Giants lost their leading home run hitter tonight to a fractured thumb, and after the game Bruce Bochy said Brandon Belt will probably miss about six weeks.
It was a rough way to get knocked out of action. Paul Maholm threw a fastball up and in, not quite a headhunter’s special but close enough to make Belt worry more about keeping his cranium out of harm’s way than his hands. The ball hit Belt’s left thumb as he pulled away from the pitch, and after running the bases he was removed from the game.
I wondered aloud who Juan Gutierrez* would end up plunking in retaliation**, but Bumgarner lasted too damned long. He struck out eight over eight innings while allowing four hits and just one run — a home run to center hit by Yasiel Puig.
* Gutierrez isn’t a guy the Giants would mind losing for a few days due to a suspension, plus he throws hard.
** I’m not in favor of beanball wars, and Bochy isn’t a tit-for-tat kind of manager, but the broken thumb may change things. I don’t know.
The bat-flippery surely irked Bumgarner, but Puig also took a while to make it around the bases. He seemed to go slower after touching each base. Once he rounded third, Bumgarner headed toward the plate to give Puig a little advice.
I saw quite a few people almost wishing for Bumgarner and Puig to come to blows. Admittedly that would probably be the most interesting sports moment of the year, but I’m not sure that’s a fight Bumgarner wants. Or, perhaps it’d be better to say it’s a fight the Giants wouldn’t want. Bumgarner is a large guy with a fiery temper and no fear. Those are pretty good traits to have in a scrap, no doubt. But Puig is a 250-pound mass of muscle and fury, and he’s dealt with some hairy situations while getting escaping Cuba with the help of a Mexican drug cartel. But mostly, you don’t want to fight crazy people. Puig may not be crazy, but there’s no guarantee that he’s sane.
Bumgarner didn’t get to face Puig again, as he led off the ninth inning in his next at-bat. My buddy, who apparently dabbles in lip reading, texted me the following:
“Bumgarner totally just said, ‘I wanted to hit him, that’s what I was hoping for’ after lobbying Boch to stay in. I love that guy!”
I didn’t catch that, so the logical thing to do is believe my friend 100%.
— Bumgarner really laid into Puig during his postgame interview. Hoo boy!
“I was just congratulating him. That was a really good swing. I don’t know why everybody got so mad. That was pretty impressive,” he said.
What did Puig say?
“I think he said thank you. I’m not sure, I don’t speak Spanish very well.”
— Hector Sanchez, Buster Posey and Michael Morse are all candidates to play at first base. Bochy mentioned Adam Duvall (who’s hit 10 homers at Fresno already), so he’s probably on his way up to the majors at some point soon.
— Sanchez looked surprisingly graceful at first base during a start there during Spring Training. He was making backhanded plays on sharp grounders, scooping tough short-hops, and afterwards he laughed and said, “I told you, it’s a piece of cake!” I’d have to imagine he’s the best defensive first baseman on the roster with Belt out.
— Crawford vs. lefties: .417/.512/.778
— Crawford vs. righties: .174/.277/.261
— Sergio Romo currently got a little writeup from Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, because he and the Giants aren’t negotiating during the season. With how well Romo has pitched and continues to pitch as the team’s closer, his price might end up being ridiculously high. He’s 12-for-12 in save opportunities, his ERA is 1.65 and he’s given up only seven hits in 16.1 innings.
— Hunter Pence walked, moved to second on a Morse groundout, stole third and came home on an Joaquin Arias’ infield single for the Giants’ third and final run. Pence’s base-stealing doesn’t get a lot of attention, but it sure paid dividends tonight.
— The Giants are 23-13 and have the best record in the National League. The Dodgers are 19-18 and 6-11 at home.
— Pablo Sandoval is still hitting .171 after going 0-for-3 with a walk. If you want to get an idea as to why he’s been so awful at the plate this year, I’ll just leave this right here: