Duffy sniffs cycle as Bumgarner cracks milestone
Nolan Arenado hit his 23rd home run on the season, a two-run shot, to put the Rockies up 2-0 in the first inning. A little fear set in.
That one pitch, a curveball with just not enough bite, could have buried Madison Bumgarner into his third quality start loss in a row. Bumgarner said:
“I thought it was a good pitch. Was debating whether to bounce another or sneak that one in. Obviously shoulda thrown one down.”
Bumgarner had gone eight innings twice with no reward and 7-1/3 to start this home stand with no decision to show for it. Things were looking all too familiar: An early deficit that his hitters couldn’t answer.
Maybe it was the mood, he changed his entrance song from favorite ‘Fire on the Mountain’ to a different tune, Bumgarner smiled:
“I was just in the mood to hear something different today.”
Or, maybe it was the new-look offense that changed his luck. The bats showed up big time for their ace; tallying 10 hits and a couple of home runs in the Giants’ 6-3 win over the Rockies Sunday afternoon.
The same Giants that couldn’t buy a series at home took four wins of six this homestand and rallied for 40 runs on their way. Bochy, who didn’t hold back his dismay over his team’s performance before their home crowd, smiled after today’s conclusion:
“It really was (nice), very pleased … Especially when we’re banged up, to take a couple series.”
The conclusion to this reviving home stand really couldn’t have gone better. Okay, maybe one call could have made it perfect.
Matt Duffy was just one overturned call shy of hitting for the cycle. He was a triple away last night, and fittingly started out the game with a whopping three-bagger into the alley. Buster Posey, the two-strike RBI machine, punched an opposite field single to right allowing Duffy to trot home, cutting the Giants’ deficit to 2-1.
Duffy’s double came in the third, when he laced a wonky one down the first base line, advancing Bumgarner, who had singled, to third. Posey did his thing, slapping an easy two-strike single to center and put the Giants ahead 3-2. He sputtered a bit on his double, Duffy chuckled about it after:
“I thought that was going into their dugout…It, like, hit off my fingers.”
His home run came in the sixth. He demolished a high-n’-slow sinker into the left field stands for a solo shot. The Giants had a 4-2 lead, Duffy was one a single shy of the cycle and two home runs ahead of Panik in the renowned ‘tortoise race.’ Panik has six and Duffy, along with yesterday’s homer, is now sitting comfortably with eight.
Brandon Crawford wanted in on the fun. He launched his 10th home run on the season into Levi’s Landing, putting him one ahead of Belt in the ‘Brandons race.’ The Giants went up 5-2.
Bumgarner solidified his reign over over the ‘pitchers’ race’ throne with a huge homer of his own in the seventh, his second of the season.
But the real MadBum show happened on the mound. After a sputtering three-hit, two-run first inning, he delivered a clean two-hit no-run performance that lasted two outs into the eighth. He went into cruise control after his escape from the third, stuffing perpetual threat Arenado and whiffing lefty Carlos Gonzalez to strand D.J. LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki on second and first. Said Bochy:
“The third inning was really the turning point in the game. That’s what great pitchers do, and he’s one of those.”
The lefty reached a milestone in the third, notching his 1,000th strikeout when he whiffed Brandon Barnes in four easy pitches. Bumgarner said someone told him about the possible record before the game that plopped him behind Amos Rusie (21) and Christy Mathewson (25) as the third-youngest pitcher to reach 1,000:
“It’s a pretty special moment… You have to be around here for a while to be able to have that kind of success.”
Bruce Bochy took the ball after his 100th pitch walked Arenado; Bum cursed into his glove, he had more to give. But his damage was done, said Bochy:
“We’ve been working him too hard…We know how hard we worked him last year and he had the heart of the line up coming up.”
Arenado struck once more in the eighth inning when he crushed a Sergio Romo slider for a home run, his 24th.
Matt Duffy was inches from a single, the only hit he needed, in the seventh when he cracked a hit just over the first base bag that hit Wilin Rosario‘s glove and deflected into foul territory. Bochy challenged the foul-ball call, but it stood. He knew about the possible cycle, but the speedy third baseman said he would have gone for second:
“It was close, but not my job to decide of the ball is fair or foul. I was thinking second … I’m just playing the game.”
Proof, as if we needed any, that the Giants really lucked out with Duffy. He started as a utility man and took every opportunity to prove that he was best used as a starter. A reporter asked if he was eyeing the vacant third base spot when Pablo Sandoval left for Boston, he couldn’t lie, he was confident:
“I feel like I have to be (confident), given my body type.”
He’s moved from the bottom of the lineup, chucking nerve-racking ground balls to first, to his place in the three-hole, giving Posey a guy to hit home and working the hot corner with a bit more ease. Bochy said of one of his best hitters:
“He uses the whole field … You make a mistake in the zone and he can do some damage … I hate to think where’d we be without him.”
Tim Lincecum will likely be placed on the DL for the first time in his career after he took a line drive to his throwing arm. Bochy said after the game they know what they’re going to do with rotation, but won’t make any adjustments until they get to Miami.