It takes a bit of luck to break a long losing streak on the road with a one-man offense. A signal that better hours were ahead came in the first inning, when the Giants again looked like a team that was playing baseball with their minds on something else entirely. D.J. LeMahieu took off from first base a split second after Madison Bumgarner started his motion, and Guillermo Quiroz made a pretty good throw to second, which no Giant decided to cover.
Covering second was almost certainly Tony Abreu’s responsibility with a right-handed hitter at the plate, but Brandon Crawford took off from his position, lunged and stopped Quiroz’s throw. Soon after, he kept Jordan Pacheco’s grounder up the middle from heading into center field, which kept LeMahieu from scoring. Bumgarner grabbed the baton from Crawford, striking out Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer …
… before getting Wilin Rosario to ground out to — who else — Crawford.
Two innings later, Buster Posey gave the Giants a 1-0 lead with a home run that landed about 20 row back in the left field bleachers.
But unlike what we saw in the previous three games, the rest of the offense produced runs! Not a truckload of runs, or a bushel even, but something is better than nothing and something is all Bumgarner would need. The Giants’ ace pitched seven innings, allowing one run. His ERA is now 3.08, more than a full run better than any of the Giants’ starters besides Chad Gaudin (2.60).
Abreu also had a gaffe in the fifth inning while running the bases, but luckily for the Giants his blunder led to a Rockies throwing error and a run after getting the putout at first on Posey’s grounder with Andres Torres on third. Abreu had two doubles and three hits, and would score later in that inning on a home run from Hunter Pence — Pence’s 13th home run of the year and his third with at least one runner on base.
— Today was filled with reminders that the Giants are incredibly fortunate in the area of divisional placement. The Rockies aren’t a great team by any stretch — especially without Troy Tulowitzki — and showed that on the throwing error mentioned earlier and on a high pop fly hit by Quiroz that somehow fell between the center fielder, left fielder and second baseman. That allowed Juan Perez to score (while trailed closely by third base coach Tim Flannery, as per usual).
— The Giants are only three games behind the D-Backs, and entire NL West is currently separated by just four games. On a related note, when Marty Lurie asked me which team in the Giants’ division would give them the most trouble, I spontaneously mentioned the Dodgers. Sorry about that.
— Bumgarner and Cain only allowed two earned runs in 15 innings. Neither pitcher is known for getting an inordinate number of outs on groundballs, but that’s how both pitchers navigated Coors Field. Cain got 12 groundouts and four flyouts yesterday, while Bumgarner induced 12 groundouts and one flyout, plus a home run from Gonzalez that bounced sideways into the Giants’ bullpen and tagged George Kontos (who seemed no worse for wear).
— One of today’s grounders led to a spectacular 6-4-3 double play:
— When Sergio Romo pitches, that’s usually a good sign. His last appearance was also the last time San Francisco won a game, when Romo went 1.2 innings in the Giants’ 2-1 victory over the Marlins in extra innings on June 22.
— As a kid, my mom would always talk about the awful “June Swoons,” the worst of Giants traditions. She never swayed me from thinking June was a pretty spectacular month overall, since it meant the end of the school year. Plus, the Giants were known for tanking in June before I was born. It’s kind of silly to divide baseball into separate months — the game doesn’t change just because a calendar page turns, even if Mike Krukow acts like it does. But the Giants have to be pleased to look ahead to July, when they’ll play 15 of their 25 games at home, with most of the team getting a four-day break in the middle of the month.
— The Giants won despite a lineup that didn’t include Marco Scutaro or Brandon Belt. During today’s game I vented about the Giants’ reluctance to keep Belt on the field when Posey plays first base, and how that needs to change.