This game was the story of two starting pitchers facing drastically different challenges, and a right fielder bludgeoning his former team with a blooper. It ended with a brash closer looking especially sour as the Giants won their third straight game in Philadelphia, a 3-1 triumph where all four runs were scored in the ninth inning.
Everyone knew what the Giants’ No. 1 starter needed to do today. Bruce Bochy told the beat guys before the game that George Kontos, Jeremy Affeldt and Tim Lincecum were unavailable. Ryan Vogelsong didn’t throw his bullpen session before the game, just in case.
Bumgarner threw eight scoreless innings, taking just 93 pitches to accomplish the feat. His line was the definition of efficiency: no walks, five hits allowed, 65 strikes. You can slam that pitching line on the coffee table like it was your last domino and say no more. That’s a statement line, a line that says Bumgarner handled his business like the ace he is. But there was so much more.
Carlos Ruiz reached third on a double in the second inning, as Ehire Adrianza couldn’t handle the short-hop on Michael Morse’s otherwise accurate throw from left field. Bumgarner put his body on the line to keep the ball from skipping out of play, belly-sliding in front of the Phillies’ dugout. He made the front of his jersey filthy in the process, something that gave Buster Posey a chuckle as he came out to the mound after the play. Or, maybe Posey was trying to keep things light and prevent Bumgarner from burning too hot. But Bumgarner handled the situation just fine, firing a 2-2 slider past Dominic Brown and getting Darin Ruf to ground out to Pablo Sandoval.
Then Bumgarner had to deal with a rain delay that began in the top of the fourth, before the rain even started. According to Alex Pavlovic, Bochy and Brian Sabean talked during the delay and decided that Bumgarner had one hour. After that, Bumgarner’s day would’ve been done and the Giants would’ve had to do another bullpen deep-dive and add a minor league pitcher to provide some help tomorrow afternoon. The delay lasted 59 minutes, and Bumgarner came back and retired 12 of the next 13 hitters he faced.
That took Bumgarner through the seventh inning, and in the eighth he faced his first jam since the second inning. Two straight singles and a bunt put runners on second and third with one out. This time Bumgarner struck out Andres Blanco on a full-count 94 mph fastball and retired Grady Sizemore on a fly ball to left.
It’s a question one could ask quite often over the last few years … WHAT ARE THE PHILLIES DOING???
A ton of scouts (literally) was there to watch Burnett pitch, and he was fantastic, matching Bumgarner pitch-for-pitch and then some. I say that because Burnett threw 131 pitches. And Burnett had to deal with the same rain delay as Bumgarner.
Good job, Burnett. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if you never pitched again, seeing as that was the most pitches you’ve thrown in a game in 12 years and you’re 37, but a valiant effort nonetheless.
He was the second Giants base runner to slide past second base on a steal attempt, due to the Crisco-covered kitty litter the grounds crew sprinkled liberally near each base.
This game wasn’t quite as weird as last night’s 14-inning affair, but there were moments.
Pence did his damage in a fascinating top half of the ninth inning, in which the Giants’ offensive attack lurched forward like a kid learning how to drive a manual transmission. Jonathan Papelbon, who was tagged with a blown save the night before on Posey’s game-tying home run, plunked Morse in the back. Adam Duvall and Tyler Colvin struck out, and Gregor Blanco (pinch-running for Morse) stole second. That caused Ryne Sandberg to call for an intentional walk, which put Brandon Crawford on first and brought up Bumgarner.
Only Bumgarner, he of the .261/.286/.500 slash line, was removed in favor of Hector Sanchez. Sanchez, he of the .198 batting average and 246 pitches caught one night earlier, did what Bumgarner probably couldn’t in that situation: he walked. Up stepped Pence, the former Phillie who seems to be playing a little harder in this series than ever before (which didn’t seem possible).
Pence took a wicked breaking ball on the outside corner on 2-2. It was called a ball, and Papelbon did a little hop in protest. Pence fought off one 3-2 fastball, then another. The first went foul. The second fluttered down the right field line and landed fair.
BLANCO SCORES, CRAWFORD SCORES … THEY ALL SCORE!!!
— In the bottom of the ninth, Papelbon was livid.
— After Papelbon hit Morse, Krukow said it would be difficult to hurt the Giants left fielder because he’s “built like a brick outhouse.”
— I said this last night, and I’ll say it again: if Pence keeps playing this well, he’s going to be a candidate to win the National League’s Most Valuable Player award. Among the guys on contending teams, Pence is third in fWAR (4.0), behind Andrew McCutchen (4.5, and he’s the favorite right now) and Carlos Gomez (4.1). Baseball Reference gives McCutchen a much bigger lead (5.7 to 3.6), but Pence is once again third among NL position players on winning teams (Jonathan Lucroy is at 3.9).
Pence leads all of Major League Baseball in runs (73) and holds the NL lead in hits (125). He doesn’t take time off, his team is in the hunt, and he could end up with a 20-20 season. Again, McCutchen is probably on his way to a second straight MVP. But Pence is starting to make some noise.
— I was shocked that Pence was tagged out in this rundown. I expected him to make it third safely somehow, even if he had to levitate over multiple Phillies infielders and briefly turn invisible to get there.
GIF via @gidget:
— *Cough* … what exactly was Adrianza doing on that play? He faked bunt and pulled the bat back on a breaking ball that was called a strike. He was also the first Giants player to slide past second base, although Chase Utley definitely furthered Adrianza’s momentum with a little nudge from his glove hand.
— Dan Uggla went 1-for-4 with an RBI in his Fresno Grizzlies debut. The Giants wouldn’t dare call him up after one game, would they?
— Another “what are the Phillies doing?” moment: after the rain delay was done, the Giants and umpires waited on the field for at least five minutes before the Phillies came out of the clubhouse. I was listening to an incredulous Dave Flemming describe how frustrated the umpiring crew looked, and I never saw an answer as to what exactly happened. Were the Phillies:
- Cleaning bits of chopped steak and cheese whiz off their uniforms?
- Finishing up an episode of Law and Order?
- Waiting until Burnett completed a 50-pitch “keeping the arm warm” session?
Come to think of it, the delay on top of the delay may have influenced Vic Carapazza on Papelbon’s 2-2 pitch to Pence. Umpires don’t like to be kept waiting.
— The Dodgers lost their second straight game, giving the Giants a two-game lead and guaranteeing they’ll have sole possession of first place when the two teams face on Friday night. Maybe Papelbon will be a Dodger by then … we can only hope.