Clayton Kershaw doesn’t give up many home runs, especially to the Giants.
From the current San Francisco roster, only Buster Posey had taken Kershaw deep — twice.
Madison Bumgarner (W, 5-2, 2.84 ERA) changed that quickly, hammering the very first pitch he saw from the other ace — a fastball down the pipe — deep to left field for a solo homer in the Giants’ sweeping 4-0 win over the Dodgers on Thursday. The Silver Slugger award winner downplayed his contribution:
“I’m happy about it … We knew runs were going to be at a premium.”
But Manager Bruce Bochy knew Bumgarner was glad to get his swing going again:
“He works hard on his hitting.”
So, Bumgarner takes round three of the NL West’s ultimate pitching duel. For those keeping track, Bumgarner and the Giants are 3-0 against Kershaw (L, 2-3, 4.32 ERA) and his Dodgers in 2015 Bumgarner can claim two of those wins this season after a no-decision on April 22 in L.A.
Bochy noted that the rivalry might pump a little more adrenaline throughout the club, but Bumgarner stayed typically cool:
“You got to treat it like another game … It’s fun to watch, but at the same time you got to worry about just getting people out.”
Bumgarner also holds a career four wins over Kershaw’s one when these two meet up.
But wait, there’s more.
Exclusive photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
Bumgarner’s 6-1/3 innings of shutout ball, and the bullpen’s 3-2/3 innings of the same, puts Giants pitchers at 27 consecutive innings without giving up a run. Thursday was the Giants’ seventh shutout this May, the most in the majors.
And for all the ‘Beat LA’ chanters, today’s win put the Giants at 10-12 against all Los Angeles teams in 2015.
At AT&T Park, Los Angeles (the Angels and Dodgers) is a cool 0-9 with four shutout losses. The Giants have completed back-to-back home sweeps over the Dodgers for the first time since 1961. Bochy said of the good vibes:
“That’s a really good hitting ball club that our pitchers shutout … I think we’re becoming more of who we are.”
Bumgarner did all he could to secure that 1-0 lead he created at the plate, keeping the Dodgers off-balance just enough to strike out six of them in 107 pitches; He and his manager agreed that he would get the first out of the seventh and call it a day.
Bochy didn’t hesitate to commend his multi-talented starter:
“He’s really intense every time he goes out there.”
And so did Brandon Belt:
“You love having a pitcher in your own lineup that can help his own cause.”
Bumgarner may single-handedly end the debate over the necessity for a designated hitter in the NL.
Though on the losing side of one of baseball’s best match-ups — and despite the cloud over his head after giving up a home run to the opposing pitcher — Kershaw did his thing. He made few mistakes, fanning seven over 7-1/3 innings.
Pence, who entered the game 0-for-8 at home, finally broke free. His first hit in front of the adoring home crowd was a clutch one, an RBI single in the fifth that scored Pagan from second and put the Giants up 2-0.
Pence struck again in the eighth after Kershaw’s departure, with another single to score Pagan from third off Chris Hatcher to put the Giants up 3-0.
Posey, who singled to extend his hitting streak to 13 consecutive games, crossed the plate for the Giants’ fourth and final run in the eighth off a Brandon Crawford single.
For that cherry on top of this shutout sweep, look at the standings. The Giants’ season-high six consecutive wins has put them at 1-1/2 games behind the Dodgers.
The Giants will begin their quest for that top spot tomorrow, when the start a seven-game road trip in Colorado, including a doubleheader on Saturday at Coors Field to make up for an April rainout. Bochy said Yusmeiro Petit could start that extra game.