A boatload of offense and a gutty performance from Madison Bumgarner made all the difference Sunday afternoon as San Francisco sought to snap a three-game skid and avoid a sweep.
The Reds seemed like they might silence Giants bats yet again, but the orange and black ultimately broke through the Cincinnati bullpen and took the season-series finale 6-5.
It was late offense that made the decisive blow on Mother’s Day. Facing the Redlegs (18-23) elite bullpen down a run in the eighth, Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval worked their way to second and third within three pitches from righty David Hernández. A Mac Williamson RBI ground out and Kevin Pillar single put the Giants ahead, once and for all.
Pillar said Sunday’s win is a part of a trend that started when they faced these same Reds a week ago Friday on their own turf and came back from an eight-run deficit:
“I think it all goes back to that day in Cincinnati, just really building off that confidence of being down that many runs late in the game [and coming back to win]. I think from that point on, we’ve swung the bats from top to bottom and it’s just needing a timely hit once in a while. Today we got a couple of those.”
But before the third and final comeback on the eighth-inning heroics Sunday, it was a game of ping pong.
The Giants (17-23) are nothing if not consistent of late. Opponents have scored in the first inning in eight of San Francisco’s last nine contests, including Sunday.
The two runs the Reds scratched across against Bumgarner (ND, 2-4, 3.88 ERA) in the first frame Sunday were unearned, though. Reds leadoff man Nick Senzel got a free base for the second day in a row to open the ballgame, this time on catchers interference from Erik Kratz. Senzel then took second on a passed ball just moments later and took third on a single from Eugenio Suárez. José Iglesias knocked a bases-clearing single to put Cincinnati up 2-0 and San Francisco was having déja
Asked what if anything felt different in the first inning for him, Bumgarner was just about as adamant as one can be in a single word:
Bochy said Bumgarner missed some spots early on, but otherwise he was very pleased with the big guy’s performance:
After the second I thought he pitched very well you know. He went back through the order a
coupletimes and made great pitches .”
The two unearned would be forgotten anyway after the Giants offense answered back right away, tying it up on a Sandoval two-run jack over the red car on the left-field wall (4) in the home half of the frame.
The Reds snatched the lead right back from Bumgarner with back-to-back doubles in the second from José Peraza and Senzel to make it 3-2, though, and Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (ND 0-5, 3.97 ERA) kept the Giants hitters bound and gagged from the second through the next 5-1/3 innings.
Nevertheless, Bumgarner kept it close, not giving an inch until Yasiel Puig took him deep (7) for his second homer of the weekend series to make it 4-2.
There were no theatrics between Puig and Bumgarner as there have been many times in the past, over bugaboos ranging from bat flips to showboating, though Bumgarner did offer a snarky post-game comment with regard to the first-pitch inside fastball the newly-minted Red sailed over the wall in deep left-center field. Bumgarner said:
“He’s a quick study—it only took him seven years to learn to hit that pitch.”
The 35,824 fans at Oracle park for Mother’s Day could be forgiven for wondering, after the Puig big fly, if Giants batters had packed it in for the afternoon. It’s been a familiar theme for what has been a struggling offense overall in 2019 for the Giants, but manager Bruce Bochy wasn’t wondering.
He said he agrees with Pillar about what that comeback game in Cincinnati meant to the club. And like the Giants new centerfielder, Bochy said he saw the impact of that previous game in the three rounds the team went with the Reds Sunday that ended with San Francisco on top. He said:
“[Our] starting pitching struggled early in the game again today but we’ve done a good job of coming back. [We overcame] eight runs in Cincinnati, four against a tough pitcher there, too, in Colorado and it’s all about just playing hard—all nine grittin’ it out. Then you have three comebacks like this. Once you do it, it shows that you can do it, then you can do it again. It does a lot for a club, you know it’s not over until the last out.”
Mahle served up an 80-mph curve right down the pipe for him and the Baby Giraffe launched it over Levi’s Landing, just feet from McCovey Cove to make it 4-4.
Sam Dyson relieved Bumgarner after six strong in which he allowed eight hits, four runs—two earned—and struck out eight. But after an uneventful sixth inning from Dyson, Reyes Moronta was called upon to hold the tie for the seventh and the wheels, uncharacteristically, fell off.
Moronta allowed a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases without recording an out. Bochy allowed him to face right-hander Kyle Farmer, whom he struck out, before handing the ball to Tony Watson to try to get the Giants out of traffic.
Watson (W, 2-0, 2.57 ERA) was unable to pull off a Houdini act for San Francisco Sunday, however. He walked the first batter he saw, Tucker Barnhart, to force in the run and put the Reds ahead 5-4, before escaping the inning with no further damage.
But with the eighth-inning rally, Watson and the Giants were reprieved from the loss, and closer Will Smith (S, 9, 1-0, 2.87 ERA) had his first save opportunity in a week.
Of the rally, Bumgarner said:
“It was pretty impressive. Our guys did a great job battling back
and andpicking up a big win for us.”
The Giants will enjoy a day off Monday before they face the Blue Jays Tuesday in interleague play. The matchup will pit rookie against rookie as Tyler Beede (0-1, 18.69 ERA) takes on Trent Thornton (0-4, 5.06 ERA) in the first of a two-game series. First pitch is set for 6:45 p.m. at Oracle Park. Wednesday’s starter for the Giants remains TBD.
With his first-inning bomb, Sandoval has hit three career Mother’s Day home runs. His other round-trippers came on Mother’s Days in 2013 and 2015, respectively.