AT&T PARK — The Pirates are enjoying the kind of season that many expected out of the Giants who won’t be the defending World Champs much longer.
Light hitting Clint Barmes’ three-run homer lifted Pittsburgh to a 3-1 win over the lowly Giants on Friday night.
Other than the sellouts at AT&T Park, it’s been playing out the string, especially since the All-Star break where the Giants have gone from 5-1/2 games back to a whopping 20 games out of first place.
The Giants seem to still be giving it a good effort but twice they were thrown out on the bases trying to steal second. And on a relay on a potential double play grounder, the ball was dropped by first baseman Brandon Belt. When the Giants did catch a break on a bloop RBI single by Roger Kieschnick it was short lived.
Pirates starter Charlie Morton (5-3, 3.42) had his sinker working and pitched a season high 7-2/3 innings scattering seven hits and a run, walking one, striking out three.
With Matt Cain the previous night, pitches left up in the strike zone by Madison Bumgarner (11-8, 2.84) were hit hard by the Bucs. The momentum turned quickly in the top of the seventh. Gaby Sanchez and Josh Harrison each with hard hit singles. After a sac-bunt by Neil Walker, Barmes lined a sharp Bumgarner slider just over the cars billboard in left field for his fourth home run of the season.
Bruce Bochy says his team lost another close one:
Giants manager Bruce Bochy
Video: CSN Bay Area
“They got a big clutch hit there and that’s the difference in the game. ‘Bum’ threw great and that’s a timely hit there and that’s what wins games. They’ve been getting a lot of them, that’s why they’re where they’re at.”
The Bucs futility over the last twenty years has exceeded that of any other Major League franchise. Pittsburgh hasn’t enjoyed a winning season or the playoffs since Barry Bonds wore the Black and Gold back in 1992.
But that’s not the case in 2013.
Barmes says the Pirates are the definition of a team whose players find a way to get the job done:
“It’s been a team that shows up everyday and expects to win. You don’t know who’s going to be that guy on any given night. It makes it exciting and makes it fun and obviously the chemistry here inside the clubhouse has been great and makes it fun to show up to the ballpark everyday.”
Part of the problem for the Giants has been the World Series hangover which was great from November through March. Once the season started, players were still fatigued from having played 16 extra games in October and some also participating in the World Baseball Classic.
At this point, Bumgarner and Buster Posey have been the only consistent performers for the Orange and Black.
And even for those two it’s been a struggle at times as Bumgarner couldn’t find the plate in the top of the eighth. He issued three consecutive walks but managed to escape without further damage.
Brandon Crawford hit a two-out double to right but was stranded as Brandon Belt struck out looking to end the eighth inning.
Posey absolutely crushed a ball to deep center in the ninth only to have the cool night air allow the ball to remain in the park, caught on the warning track by Andrew McCutchen.
The one positive was that Bumgarner saved the bullpen giving Bruce Bochy a chance to rest his overused bullpen.
There are 34 games left with the Giants 16 games under .500 so the players know the season is reaching a merciful end. With the loss and the win by the Dodgers, the Giants elimination number was reduced to 15.
Bumgarner has only one win in his last seven starts going 1-3 despite a 2.35 ERA (12 er in 46 innings). … The Giants have lost 12 of their last 16 home games. … They are averaging only 2.18 runs per game (48 in 22 home games) since the All-Star break. … San Francisco has been outscored 34-10 in five games during this homestand.