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Pillar pounds D-Backs, Posey finds his groove in Sunday win

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Ace Madison Bumgarner (W, 5-7, 4.02 ERA) made his 13th quality start of the season Sunday afternoon at Oracle Park, tossing seven dominant innings against Arizona and allowing just one run on four hits, striking out nine.

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But it was the Giants (36-47) offense that stole the show in San Francisco’s 10-4 rout of the Diamondbacks (43-43) as Buster Posey and Kevin Pillar led the orange and black to a crooked number victory on getaway day.

This story has been updated with quotes and post-game material from the Giants clubhouse at Oracle Park.

On the first stop on his way to a career-high five RBI day in Sunday’s matinee, Pillar put the Giants on the board first in the second inning. He followed a leadoff walk from Evan Longoria by launching a 91-mph Robbie Ray  (L, 5-6, 4.10 ERA) fastball into the left-field bleachers for a two-run homer (11).

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Pillar said he it was special to come up with five RBI in a game for the first time in his career, but he said it was a team effort:

“Obviously one person gets credited with driving in the runs but it takes a lot of guys getting on base in order for them to drive in runs. That’s what we did a good job of today I just made the most of opportunities.”

Pillar made the most of another opportinity the very next inning when the Giants loaded the bases with one out. Brandon Belt doubled to spark the rally and Tyler Austin drew a walk to keep the line moving. Posey continued his tear by roping a single to left, bringing Longoria to the plate. But the gold glove third baseman struck out looking in the clutch and it was Pillar who picked him up, dunking a single just over shortstop Nick Ahmed‘s head and into shallow left-center to give the Giants a 4-0 lead.

Pillar said it’s hard to explain why some days the Giants can’t seem to do much of anything right while other days like Sunday they make a 10-spot look easy. Referring to a fielding error that may have been the difference in Saturday’s game, Pillar said:

“Baseball is just a funny game. You go from — me personally having a tough moment yesterday and having to get home, sleep quick, come back to the yard and then come out and have one of the best days of my career — that’s just kind of how baseball is. That’s why it’s a great game, that’s why it’s a challenging game, that’s why it’s a frustrating game.”

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As Pillar and Posey led the Giants offense, Bumgarner sliced through the Diamondbacks lineup like butter, allowing no hits through the first 3-1/3 innings, handing out hat tricks to both Christian Walker and Carson Kelly and striking out Diamondbacks in every frame but one.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he enjoyed the show:

“I’m like a fan, I really appreciate what these guys can do and that was vintage Bum, [he was] really good today. …He used his changeup a little bit today. Four pitches he had going, and he gave us what we needed —length in the game.

Bumgarner was asked if he felt like “vintage Bumgarner” and the 29-year-old took issue with the term his skipper used:

“I’m not really a fan of that ‘vintage’ deal. …That makes it sound like you’re old. You can call me that when I’m 40.”

In Bumgarner’s most recent start against Colorado, the big lefty notched the third-most career strikeouts in the Giants San Francisco era, passing former teammate Matt Cain with 1,695.

But Bumgarner raised himself up yet another rung on that leaderboard with his ninth strikeout Sunday. So with 1,704 career K’s he passed a second former teammate, Tim Lincecum, for the second-most in San Francisco-era Giants history.

Bumgarner said he stays in touch with both Forever Giants and plans to reach out:

“It’s been a few months since I’ve talked to Timmy, I’ve talked to Cain more recently but I haven’t talked to him since I passed him last start. I meant to kind of razz him a little bit but just haven’t done it yet. … I probably [won’t razz Lincecum] as much because he [set that record] in like five years it seems like.”

The Diamondbacks only run against MadBum Sunday came in the seventh when Nick Ahmed hit a liner to center that got by Pillar and was good for three-bags. Ildemaro Vargas knocked Ahmed in on a sac fly, but that was the sole blemish on Bumgarner’s afternoon.

Though the Giants will only split the four-game series with the Diamondbacks, something important may have clicked into place over the course of the weekend that could represent a larger victory going into the second half — Posey appears to have gotten his groove back.

The catcher entered the four-game set with Arizona slashing .234/.296/.362, preparing to spend his first All Star Break in four years not among those selected to represent the National League.

But facing Merrill Kelly and Co. Friday, Posey showed a glimmer of his former self, going 3-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBI in the Giants 6-3 victory.

He got a scheduled off day Saturday and popped out in his lone pinch-hit at-bat, but Sunday he picked up right where he left off Friday behind his longtime battery mate’s gem. Not only did he launch another double, this one into the opposite field corner, but he singled to left and beat out a weak infield grounder, going 3-for-3 with a walk

Bochy said the success of the team largely depends on the success of guys in the lineup like Posey, so he was glad to see him looking like himself again this weekend. He said:

“We’ll go as our core guy goes, not just him but everybody putting runs on the board. That’s been the biggest issue probably as much as anything up to this point, we’re just getting shut down a little bit too often, so we need him— we need everybody. You saw what happened when everybody does something to contribute, but he’s certainly a big part of it.”

The Giants put together a six-run rally in the seventh facing reliever Matt Andriese, tying a season-high for runs scored in an inning. Belt drew his second walk of the afternoon to lead off and Bochy opted to pinch hit Alex Dickerson for Tyler Austin. The decision paid off as Dickerson singled to pass the baton. He has now gotten on base in each of the 10 games he’s played in a Giants uniform.

Posey then drew a walk to give Longoria another shot with the bases stacked, and Longo came through, singling to left to score Belt. Pillar, Mike Yastrzemski, Joe Panik and Pablo Sandoval combined for another four runs.

Dereck Rodríguez came out of the bullpen to relieve Bumgarner in the eighth and struggled, giving up three runs.

But Giants bats supplied more than enough cushion and Bochy was glowing with praise for Pillar, Posey and the rest of the offense:

“[Pillar] got us on the board there with the two-run homer. He really swung the bat well and threw in the clutch big hits, it was a huge day for him and really throughout the lineup. Buster had three hits, everybody did something today — knocked in a run or helped contribute. It’s nice to break out, there’s no getting around that. It’s been a while since we’ve had this type of game offensively.”

Up Next

The Giants will fly south Monday for a brief three-game road series with the Padres before closing out the first half at home with a set against the Cardinals at Oracle Park.

Jeff Samardzija (4-7, 4.52 ERA) will face 22-year-old Padres righty Logan Allen (2-0, 1.38 ERA) Monday at Petco Park in the rookie’s third-ever big league start, as the Giants veteran tries to bounce back from his June 26 start against the Rockies in which he allowed five earned runs, including a grand slam in San Francisco’s 6-3 defeat.

Notes

MLB announced Giants closer Will Smith will represent the team on the National League All Star team this year.


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