Giants’ bats catch fire in afternoon sizzler
AT&T PARK — Sparked to life after being shut out Tuesday night, sizzling Giants hitters beat up on the Atlanta Braves 10-4 on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon at AT&T Park.
San Francisco pounded Braves pitching with 15 hits including three big flies from Hunter Pence, Michael Morse and Brandon Crawford to take the series and keep hold of the best record in Major League Baseball at 26-15.
The Giants made mincemeat of Atlanta ace Julio Teheran (L, 2-3, 2.20 ERA) who struggled through 3-1/3 innings, giving up five runs (four earned) and walking five Giants hitters.
Madison Bumgarner (W, 5-3, 3.25 ERA) was only slightly better, also giving up four earned runs but only allowed one walk in five innings. Bochy agreed he didn’t have his best stuff:
“Madison wasn’t quite on top of his game, his stuff wasn’t as crisp. That’s gonna happen occasionally. What’s important is how they deal with it, and he found a way to get through it and win the ballgame.”
The bullpen came up big once again for the Giants, shutting out the Atlanta lineup through four innings. San Francisco’s 2.17 bullpen ERA is currently ranked second in the majors.
Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman picked up where he left off Tuesday, with a first-inning RBI double to right center that would’ve found its way out of almost any other major league park.
The triple was part of a tough opening frame for Giants ace Bumgarner, as Evan Gattis pulled an RBI double of his own down the left field line scoring Freeman from second, giving the Braves an early 2-0 advantage.
With Blanco on first, Pence evened the score in the bottom half of the inning smashing a high Julio Teheran fastball over the wall in right center for his second home run of the year.
An opposite field bloop single from Crawford was enough to score a rumbling Sandoval from second giving the Giants three runs in the opening frame.
Blanco, hitting .122 entering the game, was walked by Teheran to lead off both the first and second innings. In the 2nd, Blanco promptly stole second base and then third, forcing a throwing error from the catcher Gattis, allowing the speedy center fielder to round the horn, putting the Giants up 4-2 after two innings.
The struggling Blanco had a nice game Wednesday, with a clutch, two-out, opposite-field RBI single that extended the Giants lead to 6-4. Blanco then stole second, for his third steal of the game, allowing him to score on a Hunter Pence single that followed.
Bochy said the performance should give confidence to the struggling outfielder:
“It’s important to give him a start occasionally. Blanco stepped up and came through for us in that leadoff spot.”
Pence went a bruising 4-for-5 with 3 RBIs including his two-run homer in the first.
The Braves scored twice in the fourth inning on an RBI double and triple from Chris Johnson and Andrelton Simmons respectively.
Sandoval entered the game hitting .193, the fourth lowest average in the majors for qualifying batters. The big third baseman finally looked confident at the plate, raising his average to .203 going 2-for-3 with an RBI. His single in the bottom 4th gave the Giants the lead again 5-4.
Sandoval left the game to open the sixth inning. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the game Sandoval suffered an injury to his big toe but should be available Thursday.
Bochy said Sandoval has swung the bat better throughout this last week:
“He’s getting better swings off, his point of contact is in a better place right now and he’s using the whole field and turning on the ball too. … He’s a gifted hitter and it’s a matter of time before he’d get it going … Hopefully his confidence has grown and he’ll go out there everyday now and give the type of at-bats we know he’s capable of.”
Home runs by Michael Morse (9) and Brandon Crawford (5) put the game out of reach for Atlanta.
Morse smoked a towering shot over the left field wall in the sixth, but it didn’t compare to Crawford’s ninth inning blast that landed safely in the waters of McCovey Cove.
Wednesday’s home run was Brandon Crawford’s second splash hit of the year and the 66th at AT&T Park. … With a game time temperature of 82 degrees, the Giants easily sold out their 264th consecutive game at AT&T Park.