It seemed inevitable when Jorge De La Rosa walked Brandon Crawford on four pitches. Madison Bumgarner barely missed hitting a home run in his first at-bat, driving one all the way to the Budweiser sign in left center for a sacrifice fly to drive in the Giants’ first run. That one fooled me, actually.
But I was ready before his second at-bat, so ready that as he stepped to the plate with the bases loaded I wrote the worst thing I’ve ever written on Twitter and kept the cursor hovering over the “tweet” button.
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) April 12, 2014
Good grief, that is one truly awful tweet. But once the stupid idea pops into your head, and then you stupidly type the stupid tweet into the little box, then the ball soars into the night sky, you stupidly click your mouse. That’s just what you do.
What Bumgarner did was drop his bat. Like a boss. But when I asked him about said bat-drop, he didn’t remember.
“What happened? I was so excited to run into something, I don’t know. I’ll have to go back and look at it. I don’t remember anything,” he said. “All the hitting stuff is over my head. It goes pretty quick.”
Bumgarner battled through six innings, giving up four runs. However, I’m of the mind that an outing like Bumgarner had should count as a quality start since he drove in more runs than he allowed.
“That’s quite a night, 5 ribbies,” Bruce Bochy said. “He wasn’t quite as sharp (as usual), and he found a way to win that game.”
Remember when everyone was worried about Michael Morse’s defense?
This was not a game the Giants would’ve won against one of the better teams in the National League. No way they’re beating the Cardinals with an effort like this, or the Dodgers, or even the Braves. With runners on the corners and one out in the first, Bumgarner caught Josh Rutledge halfway between first and second. That led to a rundown, something the Giants had a little trouble with in their opening series against Arizona. Brandon Crawford chased Rutledge for 50 feet at a full sprint before tagging him out just before he returned to first — and Brandon Barnes scored on the play from third.
It was so weird seeing Crawford, the least likely Giant to make a mental mistake besides Buster Posey, do that. It was almost like if I heard my 92-year-old grandmother curse.
But that wasn’t all, oh no. Brandon Hicks (whose glove isn’t all that dependable, to put it lightly) failed to secure a grounder in the hole from Rutledge in the third. It was called a hit, but it was a play big league second basemen need to make. Carlos Gonzalez hit a 3-2 curveball into the cove — splash. The Giants were down 3-0 after that.
The Giants took the sloppiness to another level (through the ozone) in the eighth. Pablo Sandoval fielded Nolan Arenado’s bunt and should’ve held onto the ball, but instead he winged it into the beach club section next to the Rockies’ dugout. A Charlie Blackmon single cut the lead to 6-5, and Juan Perez made things worse by firing the ball home and overthrowing the cutoff man in the process to give Colorado 90 extra feet.
Santiago Casilla was on the mound, so of course things got a little weirder. He made a great play to snag a high comebacker, then spun around and fired the ball to second to catch Blackmon. Crawford had to run back to the bag to catch the ball. Then, with his back to the runner, he flung his glove back into Blackmon’s foot for the fielder’s choice. One out, man on first. Then Perez caught a liner, and this time he showed off his arm in a team-friendly way by throwing a strike to first to pick off Jordan Pacheco.
“Casilla made a great play to get the runner at second base,” Bochy said.
“The kid Perez, he misses the cutoff man and lets the guy go to second. He bounces back and makes a great play, great throw to the first baseman. Defense came through at times, too.”
— “Bumgarner, he’s one of those five o’clock hitters. He’s pretty special at five o’clock. He can put ‘em in the seats,” Tim Hudson said back in March.
I asked Bumgarner about what Hudson said, and he didn’t deny that it was an accurate label.
“I’m definitely a 5 o’clock hitter,” he said. “I think (the other pitchers will) leave me alone for a couple weeks now. But yeah, definitely more of a 5 o’clock hitter than 7.”
— I asked Bochy if Sandoval (who went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts and raised his average to .143) is trying to do too much defensively.
“Possibly. I know he’s had a lot going on. They’re all human. You don’t get off to a great start, you probably start trying a little too hard. It can be the same with the bat or out on the field,” he said.
“But we’ll get settled in. The first two or three weeks are critical weeks, I think, for the team. But also for the players. They need to get their confidence going. When that happens, I think you’ll see these guys loosen up a little bit.”
— I also asked if Bumgarner lobbied to hit one last time in the bottom of the sixth.
“He asked me, he did,” said Bochy. “‘I’m OK to swing the bat if you want me to.’ But no, he was kidding around with that.”
— Sergio Romo struck out the side — all looking. Home plate Dan Iassogna rung up Justin Morneau on a VERY questionable pitch that looked low and outside, and Morneau let him know. Barnes walked off quietly after taking a slider down the middle for strike three, and Troy Tulowitzki came up to pinch hit. He didn’t start due to a quad strain, and he strained his vocal chords after Iassogna rung him up. A full house at AT&T went nuts, because the Giants won and the fireworks were going to get started before 11 pm, against all odds.
— Bumgarner’s sacrifice fly drove in Crawford, who hit a triple that would’ve been a home run in a lot of other parks.
— The bullpen has an ERA of 2.25. If you have to ask, the starters’ ERA is 4.79 (I’m not going to give you the Cain/Lincecum/Vogelsong ERA because we should all just enjoy our weekend).
— One last bit of Bumgarner, on how he prepares to hit: “I’m not a big film guy. Not really too much of that. I think a lot of the hitters do. I’m just trying to see the little white thing out there and hit it.”