Minutes later, somewhere in Texas, former Giant Matt Duffy crushed his first home run as a Tampa Bay Ray. Panik answered right back, taking another fastball to right field in his next at bat.
The once-great Tortoise Race has been re-ignited. Panik assured he’d text Duffy the news:
“I’m gonna tell him it’s still on.”
We’ll see if Panik’s multi-home run game — the first of his career — could spark the homegrown-heroes’ tradition into a cross-country mini rivalry. Here’s hoping. What we know for sure is the immediate impact those two blasts had at AT&T Park.
The Giants’ 13-4 win over the Atlanta Braves Sunday afternoon transformed a rare multi-home run game — Denard Span homered a few at bats later — into an extra-base hit spectacle.
San Francisco (71-59) hit 11 extra-baggers, to be exact, the most they’ve had since 2002 in a game played one-mile high.
And on August 28, mark it down, the Giants took just their second series win of this second half. They earned their first one 18 days ago. Bruce Bochy was grateful to have hopped this hurdle:
“It’s great to take a series here. It’s great to take a series anywhere.”
So, how has it taken this long to get another series win? After every loss, the Giants clubhouse sang a repetitive tune: the team was playing well, the pitching looked solid, and Bochy liked the way his guys were swinging the bats.
But balls weren’t finding gaps or fell just short. Players hit into triple plays or potential go-ahead home runs fell inches short at the warning track.
Those hits have started to shift course since the near no-hitter in Los Angeles just a few days ago. Sunday, those gaps once sealed shut looked gaping, and the ball seemed to soar, said Bochy:
“It’s good for their psyche, good for their confidence.”
It was as if the back-logged offensive was plunged clear. The team notched four triples — matching a San Francisco era high — and collected 18 hits total.
Most of the Giants’ offensive production came in a seventh inning spectacle in which the Braves’ bullpen unravelled. Brandon Crawford, Jarrett Parker and Conor Gillaspie tripled in that inning alone and Eduardo Nuñez cracked the team’s fourth homer on the day.
This is the first time in modern baseball history that the Giants have had a four home run, four triple game. The last MLB team to do so? The 1998 Yankees. Young Derek Jeter tripled and hit a home run.
Panik and Span gave the Giants five runs, and they were able to add on, big time. That’s what Bochy wanted to see:
“It was a close game there and it was nice to have a big inning. We haven’t had one of those in a while.”
The big, historic seventh inning put a game very much in limbo out of reach. Way out of reach.
It seems as though Bumgarner has been struggling through his last few starts. Since Justin Ruggiano‘s grand slam, Bumgarner’s accumulated a 6.35 ERA, inflating the pristine 2.11 ERA he held in all starts before that.
His stuff isn’t missing bats as much, but Bumgarner (W, 13-8, 2.49 ERA) said his mechanics are where he wants them to be. Hitters just seem to be making the right adjustments. The pitch to Freeman went exactly where he wanted it to go, but he still made solid contact. Bumgarner had a simple explanation for the slide:
“Things just haven’t worked out like they did.”
His stuff was good enough Sunday, though — particularly his curveball — to push him through seven solid innings.
Freeman’s home run proved to be the only major blip these Braves (48-83) could scratch against him.
Denard Span forced a little more weight on his shoulders right out the gate, too, after a mis-read on Ender Inciarte‘s leadoff single allowed him to take third and eventually score. Bumgarner tallied 21 pitches through that first inning.
The offense took care of Bumgarner today:
“They scored enough runs to make up for it, that’s for sure.”
So, Bumgarner gets his 13th win this season. Still, there was no movement in the standings. The Dodgers edged the Cubs 1-0, keeping their two-game lead in the NL West intact.