Angel Pagan

Buster Posey hits walk-off HR to cap milestone night for Tim Hudson and Bruce Bochy

It’s not quite accurate to say Buster Posey is carrying the Giants, even over the last two games. Madison Bumgarner, Tim Hudson and a host of other contributors have helped the Giants keep this series from turning into flaming wreckage. But the Giants wouldn’t have scored without Posey’s two home runs last night, and tonight his third hit was a game-ending home run that came on a pitch on the inside corner at the letters.

GIFs via @gidget

Posey is hitting .330/.370/.585 in August, 15-for-31 with four homers and 10 runs batted in over his last seven games. When he’s homered during that stretch, the Giants are 4-0. No Buster home run, 0-3.

He’s not walking much; four of his six walks this month came on Aug. 4 against the Mets. The knock on him over the past two seasons — other than the huge discrepancy in his numbers when he catches vs. when he plays first base — is that he’s not the run-producer everyone expects him to be, or the run-producer the Giants are paying him to be. Lately he’s been exactly that, but his defensive save was just as impressive of a feat from a physical and timing standpoint as his rainbow-shaped blast that made the AT&T Park ambulance seem like a pot of gold.

Santiago Casilla was off from the start, and with runners on first and second after the Giants’ 2-1 lead was erased by a Justin Morneau double (yes, another one), Casilla uncorked a 1-0 something-or-other into the dirt, several feet in front of Posey. MLB.com called it a knuckle curve. Whatever it was, Posey turned his mitt downward as he hoped to scoot into a position to block the pitch.

Buster Posey Santiago Casilla

No way that was happening, as Casilla’s pitch was “juuuuust a bit outside” to the point where it would’ve drilled Michael McKenry in the ass if he was a left-handed batter. So Posey went to the backhand, and made a play that’s nearly impossible on a pitch that bounces this high.

Buster Posey Santiago Casilla Giants

The ball rattled into Posey’s glove. Casilla smartly ditched the knuckle-curve and threw three straight fastballs, the last of which was grounded to Matt Duffy. Duffy started the 6-4-3 double play with remarkable poise. He also went 2-for-3 with a walk and a run scored in this game. See, Posey isn’t exactly a Budweiser clydesdale, tugging a carriage packed with 24 other Giants.

OK fine, I give up. Narrative, you win this time.

/shakes fist at sky, sees orange and black blimp with a picture of Posey’s mug that reads “FACE OF THE FRANCHISE”

***

Tim Hudson pitched eight innings and received a game score of 77, his highest since earning an 80 in his first start of the season. This game breezed along, with Hudson retiring Rockies about as quickly as I can shell sunflower seeds. He struck out eight, in the process collecting the 2,000th strikeout of his career. It’s a milestone that shows how excellent Hudson has been since the 1990s (alright, 1999, but ’90s sounds more impressive).

It also shines a light on why Bruce Bochy — who celebrated a milestone of his own — might have taken him out of this game after just 87 pitches.

100 pitches is an arbitrary number, but it’s clearly one teams pay attention to. They also pay attention to 110 and avoid 120 like a hornet’s next in most cases, but we’ll stick with 100. Hudson has only passed the 100-pitch mark eight times this season. Madison Bumgarner has done it 17 times. How about 90 pitches or more? Hudson 14 – Bumgarner 26. Hudson will turn 40 next season, and the Giants are hoping for another Hudson season that’s at least similar to this one. We’ll see what they ask of him this September.

***

So Bochy passed Tommy Lasorda on the all-time wins list, and this was unlike just about every one of the other 1,599 Bochy wins for a couple of reasons. Generally his bullpen decision-making is peerless, but inserting Casilla into the game was almost certainly a mistake. Casilla is under the weather, and it appeared early in the ninth that he might not throw a strike all night.

(You had to feel bad for Drew Stubbs, who got drilled in the back by Casilla’s first pitch, a 93 mph fastball. There’s no way I’d do squat against any big league pitcher. But of all the pitchers on the Giants’ staff, Casilla is the one I’d least like to face. He’s got a ton of pitches, he throws in the mid-90s and there’s enough unpredictability there to make me want to jump away from the plate before he even released the ball every single time.)

Posey’s defense and home run saved Bochy from facing more than one question about leaving Hudson in, but he made a rare move (for him) that turned out rather nicely. With Duffy on third and Panik on first, Gregor Blanco dropped a perfect bunt along the first base line to score Duffy. A safety squeeze! Granted, Bochy can’t count on Blanco to hit one of those three-run homers he loves so much, but it was still wild to see a Giant lay one down in that situation. Then Hudson followed with a beauty of a bunt to the other side of the infield, and the coaching staff looked at Bochy like he might have been possessed by Roger Craig.

Giants coaches Bochy Meulens Hayes Gardner

“Two,” said Hensley Meulens, who wondered if Bochy would keep the streak going with another.

Giants Meulens Hayes Bochy Gardner

Pagan didn’t bunt, he grounded out to third and jogged down the line rather gingerly.

***

Pagan stayed in center field throughout this game, and that was good news both in the long- and short-term. He walked in the seventh, showed far greater speed when Nick Masset’s pickoff throw sailed past Morneau, and raced home on Posey’s single in the most stylish way possible. I guess his calf is OK? Who knows.

And without his opposite-field single in the ninth, Buster Posey probably wouldn’t have come up in the inning, the Giants probably would’ve given up a run in the 10th, and the Giants probably would’ve had to win on Thursday afternoon to salvage a series split against the worst road team in baseball.

Extra BASGs

— Here’s another player to add to the list of guys who helped Posey carry the team: Pablo Sandoval. His diving stop to start a double play in the fourth was ridiculous. So, so good. Nice turn by Joe Panik, too. Corey Dickerson crushed one into the cove to lead off the fifth inning, so who knows what kind of mess Sandoval’s defensive wizardry kept Hudson from getting into.

— I’m covering Thursday afternoon’s game for CSN Bay Area, so head over there if you’re one of the few lunatics out there who just has to know what I think about Yusmeiro Petit’s first start in place of the recently demoted Tim Lincecum.

— From Tim Flannery’s Facebook page:

Tim Flannery Facebook Bruce Bochy 1600th win

— If the Giants win the series finale, just think about how fantastic Bochy’s mood will be tomorrow evening when you see him at Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the King Street location or on Lombard, Bruce and Kim will make it to both San Francisco restaurants, where 100% of the proceeds (including pickup and delivery orders) from 3-10 pm will go to the San Francisco Homeless Prenatal Program. Check out the “Dine and Donate” page for more info, including the prizes available and how you can take part.

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