AT&T PARK — With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning, the Giants were facing the familiar yet unwelcome prospect of stranding runners in scoring position.
But with a 2-2 count, just when fans were ready to release their frustrated grunts, Michael Morse scorched a double down the left-field line to bring everyone home.
The hit gave San Francisco three runs, just a drop in their offensive bucket Sunday afternoon. The Giants went on to beat the Minnesota Twins 8-1 en route to their third series sweep of the season and Madison Bumgarner’s sixth win on the season.
The offense wasted no time granting Bumgarner some breathing room when Gregor Blanco hit a single to lead off the game.
After Hunter Pence hit a grounder to force Blanco out at second, a slumping Buster Posey hit a broken-bat single to left before Pablo Sandoval singled to bring Pence home. Morse hit a sacrifice fly to bring Posey home from third to give the Giants an early 2-0 lead.
San Francisco’s bats stayed hot throughout the game. Blanco, who before today was 1 for his last 11, went 3-for-4. Pence continued his ownership over Twins’ starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco, blasting his sixth career home run against the veteran in the third to give the Giants the 3-1 lead.
But Morse’s fifth inning heroics sealed the Giants’ victory, and exemplified an evolving Giants offense that’s starting to take advantage of scoring opportunities to secure healthier, less-torturous leads.
Morse was expected to take the day off, manager Bruce Bochy explained why that didn’t happen:
“I mean I check with these guys, I check with (Morse). They’re honest. Angel (Pagan), I thought he needed a day today. But with Morse, he’s doing well. He feels great. And I’m glad we didn’t give him a day. He really did a nice job picking us up there, we had the bases loaded and that two-out hit helped blow it open.”
Morse knocked two more doubles and a sacrifice fly to add to his day.
Bumgarner kept the Twins’ bats silent over seven innings with 10 strikeouts, He allowed just three hits and one earned run for his fourth consecutive win.
Bochy attributes Bumgarner’s strong outing to his evolving command:
“…He’s gaining more knowledge with experience on how to attack hitters, and he’s throwing 93 with command, a good cutter, curveball and change. He can go both sides of the plate. So he’s going to mount some strikeouts.”
The lefty also managed to strike out Twins’ hit leader Joe Mauer all three times he faced him. Mauer extended his interleague hitting streak to 18 games after he knocked a ninth-inning single to center off reliever George Kontos.
The Giants will take on the Chicago Cubs for a three-game series starting Memorial Day at 1:05 p.m. Matt Cain was scratched from his start due to a lingering hamstring injury; Yusmeiro Petit will start in his place.
Buster Posey looked like he was going to pull out of his slump with a first-inning single, but ended up going hitless the rest of the game with a bases-loaded, no-out strikeout in the fifth and a double play in the seventh. … Pablo Sandoval, who was a career 9-for-18 against Nolasco with two home runs, got two hits off of the right-hander today.